Coronavirus may no longer be the market’s top risk.
According to Crossmark Global Investments’ Victoria Fernandez, weak consumer spending is the biggest threat to the recovery — especially as social unrest grips the nation.
“If you looked about a month or two ago, people would say it was Covid, and it was the reopening that was going to be the issue,” the firm’s chief market strategist told CNBC’s “Trading Nation” on Tuesday. “We could open up factories. We could have manufacturing come back. If we don’t have consumer demand out there right now, that’s not going to help the economy.”
She’s concerned protests turning violent across America are exacerbating the situation by putting pressure on newly opened businesses.
“Now that we have this unrest, many of those places that have only been open for a week or two are already closing again. I’ve seen it myself in Houston,” said Fernandez. “That’s going to be our biggest issue right now. Can we get consumers back out spending?”
If the violence recedes, she suggests, it’s possible spending will make a comeback. Despite the massive job losses, Fernandez sees evidence Americans have money.
“We saw a record high savings rate over the last couple of weeks,” said Fernandez. “We now have to have that deployed back into the economy.”
The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis found the personal savings rate hit 33% in April. It’s the highest level since the department began collecting data in the 1960s.
Even if consumer spending rebounds, Fernandez, who oversees $4.5 billion, says the economy isn’t out of the woods. She predicts a W-shaped recovery amid a “Jekyll and Hyde” market.
“You’ve got different personalities in the market right now,” Fernandez said. “On a daily basis, it just depends on what grabs the headlines.”