Suffice to say, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our lives in 2020 in ways that most of us could never have imagined. Many segments of the business world have literally been shut down now for several months. While the economy has started to reopen, it is clear that many businesses will not return to pre-COVID revenue levels for quite a while, if ever. Consumer behavior reflects a great deal of anxiety about the health risks associated with COVID-19, and folks are going to be reluctant to fly in airplanes, stay in hotels, eat in restaurants, and visit shops until they feel safer. There are a few bright spots, though, as demand has soared for home improvement items, recreational vehicles, pool supplies, cleaning supplies, and groceries, amongst others.
Having started my banking career in 1980, this economic downturn will mark the 6th recession I’ve experienced. We are always faced with unknown questions at the time the economy turns down about the depth and length of the recessions. However, what makes the current fact set particularly unique and difficult to forecast is that the trigger is a public health crisis. As a consequence, we have a double dose of uncertainty – i.e. will a relaxation of the shelter-in-place restrictions result in a resurgence of the virus, how long will we go without a vaccine, will the virus slow its spread in the hot summer weather and then rage again in the fall? It is impossible to project the outlook for the economy without first addressing the above questions about the Coronavirus. If we define risk by the uncertainty of the outcome, we are in a period of great risk.
Relationships in business matter, and during times of stress and uncertainty, they matter the most. For us at River City Bank, that recently meant taking care of our customers’ applications for funding under the Paycheck Protection Program (“PPP”). I’m extremely proud of my colleagues’ performance since Congress announced the PPP on March 27. Thus far, we have processed almost $300 million in loans for 700 borrowers; all RCB applicants received their funding.
None of us knows for sure what the future will bring. As people who own and operate businesses, our job is to focus on the things that we can control and manage the risks, as best we can, around the unknown. Please let me or your relationship manager know if we can help you navigate through this challenging period.