A Look Back at Q2, 2020
Lockdowns and Job Losses
2020 has been a year to remember. Industries have adapted to changing consumer habits, markets have fluctuated, and people have spent countless hours on Zoom (ZM). Over the next week, we’ll break down important events that took place during each quarter of the year. Today, we’re taking a look at Q2 of 2020.
The second quarter of the year was one for the history books. At a certain point during Q2, 95% of Americans were under stay-at-home orders. These measures, put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, caused shockwaves across the economy. Large and small businesses reeled and 20 million jobs were lost just during the month of April. In June, 2.5 million jobs were added, but unemployment levels remained alarmingly high.
To bolster the struggling economy, the Federal Reserve dropped interest rates to zero. The central bank also announced it would purchase investment grade and high yield corporate bonds, and put unlimited quantitative easing measures in place. Additionally, the Federal Government rolled out its largest fiscal stimulus initiatives since World War II, including forgivable loans for small businesses and $1,200 checks for eligible citizens in the US.
During the first quarter of the year, investors watched the fastest 30% market decline in history. Then in Q2 markets made their most significant 50-day comeback on record. The S&P 500 finished the second quarter 20% higher, marking the index’s biggest percentage gain since the fourth quarter of 1998. The Dow rose 18% and the Nasdaq climbed a remarkable 31%.
Although the IPO market was almost nonexistent when Q2 began, it picked up steam as the quarter went on. Several large companies, including Warner Music Group (WMG), ZoomInfo Technologies (ZI), and Albertsons (ACI) made their public debuts.
Grappling With Racial Inequality
Spring of 2020 will also be remembered as a time of reckoning on race and calls for social justice. After George Floyd was killed in police custody in Minneapolis, protests against police brutality and racial inequality took place across the country.
Corporate America made some changes during this time. Quaker Oats (PEP) and Mars removed racist imagery from packaging for their Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben products. Amazon (AMZN) and Microsoft (MSFT) suspended the sale of their facial recognition software to police departments as this technology has been criticized for showing racial bias.
Disparities still exist between Black Americans and their white counterparts in employment, wealth, education, home ownership, healthcare, and incarceration. Here at SoFi, we renewed our commitment to becoming a more inclusive and diverse workplace, implementing company-wide bias trainings and donated $1M to organizations working to fight systemic racism.
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