Market participants will get back to work this week. From home.
Employees at Bank of America, Citi and JPMorgan will start 2022 logging in remotely, role permitting, as COVID sweeps across New York.
The state reported nearly 85,500 new cases on Saturday (figure below). For context, that’s 13 times the daily average from just one month ago.
“We are asking that you work from home for the first few weeks of the New Year if you are able to do so,” Citi told employees, in a memo, adding that the bank will “continue to monitor the data.”
Right now, “the data” shows New York State is logging about half as many cases by itself as the entire country averaged during the peak of the Delta wave (figure below).
In the same memo mentioned above, Citi said it would “provide an update in January on when we expect to be back in the office.”
The message was for employees in the New York metropolitan area. If you’re curious as to how acute the situation is in New York City itself, the figure (below) shows the breakdown. It’s mind-boggling.
The city is averaging some 35,000 new cases per day, more than triple any single daily record logged prior to the Omicron wave.
According to The New York Times, though, Omicron may have “met its match” in the obstinate New Yorker. “Even as Omicron has torn through the country in the final weeks of the year, upending everything, setting case records, canceling flights, causing long lines at testing sites, threatening a smooth reopening of school in January, returning us to the devotional of the propane heat lamp, it is hard not to feel for New York an appreciation that is snobbish, imperious, unambivalent,” Ginia Bellafante wrote.
“Snobbish” and “imperious” certainly count among adjectives everyday Americans might be inclined to use when describing Wall Street, although, as one highly amusing Bloomberg article detailed, a sense of existential dread now pervades the ranks of the country’s haughtiest bankers.
“[I]t’s not what you have, it’s how much more you have than everyone else,” Max Abelson wrote, on the way to quoting the chairman of an HFT firm who said, “Everyone compares themselves to those people.” “Those people,” Abelson explained, are “teenagers worth $20 million because they giddily loaded up on crypto.” That reality — that you’re working 18 hours a day, six days a week for a lousy $350,000 while sundry Roaring Kitties are buying M8s with their spare change — “can be hard on the ego,” Abelson remarked.
Coming back to New York City’s collective resilience, the vaccination rate (those who’ve received at least one dose, anyway), “rivals nearly any place on earth,” Bellafante declared, noting the 92% rate “was achieved before a mandate requiring private-sector employers to have their workers immunized went into effect this week.” Further, Bellafante observed that “mask wearing on the subway and even on the street where you don’t have to cover your face — unless you are avoiding cloud bursts of weed smoke or the cold — is robust.”
As for Wall Street, the defiant attitude among executives at some firms continues to collide with the reality of a more transmissible strain. Boosters are now mandatory at Goldman, and may soon be compulsory at the house of Dimon, unless you’re inclined to be tested twice per week as a condition for entering an office you don’t want to be at in the first place.
In a memo to employees just prior to Christmas, JPMorgan suggested staff “exercise caution and good judgment.” Or at least as it relates to COVID.
7 thoughts on “‘Imperious’ New Yorkers, Jaded Wall Street Stare Down COVID Tsunami”
So here we go. A highly vaccinated locality that was feeling the Delta surge and now the full affects of omicron.
The areas that fell to Delta previously and low percentage vaccinated will get us a different idea about herd immunity soon enough.
Sinovac not promising.
Barring a new variant, word on the street here in NY is we should be past the worst of it end of January . Wishful thinking, nahh, that was 2021.
I live in NYC. It is not quite a disaster, but things are not functioning normally. My daughter’s HS is opening Monday, and you can tell from her principal’s announcement that he expects to have to go remote very quickly. I am sure the new mayor’s administration twisted arms to get some schools to reopen- the HS she goes to went remote the Thursday before Christmas because too many teachers were sick. Does anyone think things are better now than December 23rd? Also subway lines were closed – not enough conductors. And fire and police services are very likely to be reduced too. Reopening quickly was a political statement- it did not seem to care for the health and welfare of the students, administration or faculty. My other daughter’s elementary school is also reopening. They had raging covid in the school as well- the school’s parent coordinator told my wife- not for attribution that if she had a child enrolled in the school she would keep them at home. So we will be heading back into school expecting things to close down very quickly. Eric Adams looks like he will get off to a pretty lousy start. The idea that NYC will stay open in the teeth of a raging pandemic is folly.
Omicron <> Delta
This guy here gives pretty good daily overviews
Turns out that Omicron antibodies give you some protection against Delta virus, but not the reverse.
However T-cell response is still good if you have had any prior variant, or the vaccine.
I have two hedges on, to guard against instability, against my core long positions.
I am short oil with a put spread and short TSLA with a calendar spread.
Now, no doubt, in response to record high Omicron infection, and the start of Fed tightening, the market will rally to new all time highs and hold it all through January.
Because that is where we are right now. It is all monopoly money.
Watch new case and hospitalization charts. With new cases already 2.5X the Delta peak (using 7 day MVA), Omicron’s lower severity isn’t going to stop hospitalizations from exceeding Delta peak, and ditto for economic disruptions.
Up to now, the biggest new case surge has been in the Northeast which has the highest vaccination rate in the US and thus the lowest “effective severity”. As the surge picks up speed in lower-vaccination rate regions, I expect the effective severity to worsen.
During the Delta surge in late summer/fall, the South consumed a disproportionate amount of the national supply of therapeutics (REGN and LLY mAb). It won’t have that luxury in this surge – the therapeutics that work on Omicron (GSK/VIR mAb, PFE and MRK antivirals) are not available in sufficient quantity to bail out the proudly unvaccinated.
jyl – once again, thanks for your thoughtful & insightful comments on the virus.
And so the finger pointing begins …
Governor Ron DeSantis to Biden Administration: Release Stranglehold on Life-saving Monoclonal Antibodies
On January 3, 2022, in News Releases, by Staff
Following reversal of federal monoclonal antibody distribution pause, Florida needs at least 30,000 more doses per week than it is receiving through the Biden Administration’s allocation system