Americans are down on stocks after coronavirus sell-off, Gallup survey says real estate is the best investment.

From gallup.com and cnbc.com

Americans feel cynical about stock market investing due to the economic shock caused by coronavirus. 21% of Americans who think stocks or mutual funds are the best long-term investment is down by six points from 2019 and the lowest percentage recorded by Gallup since 2012. Real estate ranked first, followed by gold and savings accounts.

Since 2013, 35% of Americans say real estate is the most recommended long-term investment. And since 2016, over one-third of Americans have named real estate as the top investment.

Stocks and mutual funds remain the second most preferred long-term investment, despite the dip. Savings accounts or CDs (17%) and gold (16%) followed. Bonds lagged at roughly 8%.

Stockowners have also lost interest in stocks or mutual funds — with the percentage naming stocks dropping from 37% in 2019 to 30% now.

The results came from Gallup’s annual Economy and Finance survey that was conducted from April 1–14 among 1,017 U.S. adults.

High-income Americans believe stocks and mutual funds as the best long-term investment. However, the drop occurred among both high-income and low-income Americans, with a decline of nine points each from last year’s survey, while the percentage of middle-income respondents who chose stocks or mutual funds did not change.

The survey shows that the ownership of stocks is stable at 55% of Americans. But confidence among stock owners fell, with only 30% picking stocks and mutual funds as the best investment — down from 37% in 2019. And even after a decade of economic expansion and record stock market gains, the percentage of Americans that own stocks have not reached its 63% peak from before the Great Recession. A low was reached by 52% in 2013.

65% of high-income households said investing $1,000 in the stock market is a good idea, but 47% of middle-income households and 39% of low-income households agreed. Over half of stock owners believe the investment to be valuable, while the sentiment among non-investors hovered closer to a third.

Stocks appeal’ may have faded after the longest-running bull market in the U.S. history ended, they still ranked as the second most valued investment. However, the economic fallout from coronavirus could scramble Americans’ preferences as the stock market is at risk and the real estate market’s future is uncertain.

Full Article on gallup.com and cnbc.com


Coronavirus Impact Ripples Across Farm Country

From FB.org

From dairy farmers with nowhere to send their milk and cattle ranchers reeling from plummeting beef prices, the impact of the coronavirus is rippling through farm country. Corn, cotton and soybean futures have tumbled, ethanol plants have been idled, and some fruit and vegetable farmers are finding their best option is leaving produce in the field.

Price forecasts for most agricultural products are bleak. In the past month, dairy prices have dropped 26-36%, corn futures have dropped by 14%, soybean futures are down 8% and cotton futures have plummeted 31%. Hog futures are down by 31%. A surge in demand for beef emptied grocery store meat aisles, but there is no lack of supply. Despite a rise in retail prices in some areas, the prices paid to cattle ranchers have fallen 25%. 

Dairy producers were optimistic at the start of 2020 that it would be a turnaround year, with milk prices on the rise and feed costs holding steady. But hopes were dashed when the coronavirus quickly and dramatically impacted demand, disrupted supply chains and led to the 26-36% drop in prices. Schools, restaurants and universities that were among the main purchasers of milk and milk products were suddenly shuttered, leaving dairy farmers with far more milk than plants are capable of processing. The sometimes-empty supermarket milk coolers reflect supply chain adaptation challenges, not lack of supply. Experts do not expect retail demand for dairy to make up for lost food service and restaurant demand. 

“Farmers and ranchers are determined to deliver on their commitment to provide a safe and abundant food supply, but make no mistake, they are facing make-or-break struggles, like many Americans,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “After years of a down farm economy and damaging severe weather, the COVID-19 ripple effects are forcing farmers and ranchers to face heartbreaking financial realities. Without question, the disaster aid provided in the CARES Act is a lifeline that will help many farmers hold on. We don’t know how many for how long, but we’re grateful.”

The CARES Act provides $9.5 billion to the Agriculture Secretary for financial support to farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus and $14 billion for the Commodity Credit Corporation. Direct food- and agriculture-related provisions in the CARES Act, including the support for USDA and the CCC and additional funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, account for only .02% of the total aid provided in the bill.

USDA has not yet announced how it will distribute the aid. Meanwhile farmers reliant on direct consumer sales, such as farmers’ markets and u-pick farms, are also facing dramatic losses. Often highly perishable, a loss of market at peak harvest has led some to cut their losses by leaving fruits and vegetables in the fields.

Abiding by travel restrictions, people are driving far less, pushing down demand for both oil and ethanol made from corn. A 35% drop in ethanol prices caused some plants to stop production, further depressing corn prices. The sudden change also cut off the supply of dried distillers grains — a byproduct of ethanol production and source of high-protein feed — for livestock producers, who are left scrambling to find a replacement.

While the impact to agriculture has been acute and immediate on many fronts, there is more to come if farmers and ranchers are forced to downsize or stop farming and ranching altogether.

“There are millions of people involved in producing America’s food supply. Fewer farms mean fewer farm workers, truck drivers, processors and manufacturers and potentially higher food prices – not today, maybe not even this year, but farmers won’t be the only ones affected by the long-term agricultural impacts of the coronavirus pandemic if prices continue to drop and markets aren’t restored,” Duvall explained. “We’re all in this together. No one is more mindful of that than farmers and ranchers who keep planting, harvesting and finding new and creative ways to ensure their products reach America’s dinner tables.”

More detailed information about the coronavirus’ impact on agriculture is available on the American Farm Bureau Federation website.

Full Article on FB.org