Day: March 4, 2020

Personal Finance Daily: Only a fraction of Americans can actually do work from home and why the magazine you read could raise your car insurance cost

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Barron’s wants to recognize people and organizations whose products, services, or education programs are making an impact to improve the financial health of individuals across the U.S. Be sure to head to for more information and to submit a nomination by March 15 for the Barron’s Celebrates: Financial Empowerment program.

We’ve officially made it halfway through the week, MarketWatchers! In other news, don’t miss these top stories:

Personal Finance
A first look at the futuristic Polestar Precept concept

Polestar is looking ahead with an EV concept debuting at the Geneva auto show.

Luxury cars: Comparing the 2020 Genesis G90 with the Audi A8

A suite of standard safety and technology features come in both vehicles, as do a variety of engine options.

Beware—the IRS is watching if you’re thinking of fudging your taxes

Two tax pros explain how the IRS keeps tabs on you.

Why the magazine you read could raise your car insurance cost

Insurers create algorithms based on all kinds of personal data.

The math Prince Harry and Meghan Markle should have done on this one big expense before splitting from the royal family

An armored vehicle? How many full-time protection officers?

Watch Alex Trebek give an emotional cancer update: ‘There were moments of great pain’

The “Jeopardy” host was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer one year ago.

‘China can shut down entire cities.’ How the coronavirus spread so fast — and what we can learn from those critical early days

A timeline of ‘unfortunate’ events, starting with COVID-19’s jump from animals to humans.

The coronavirus may force many Americans to work from home — but only a fraction can actually do that

Older workers and those with families were usually happy to work from home, but it was a tougher experience for young and single workers, research suggests.

Elsewhere on MarketWatch
What older Americans need to know about the differences between Biden and Sanders on Social Security

Older Americans should pay attention to the views of the top candidates on Social Security and Medicare.

Biden’s fundraising was improving before his Super Tuesday wins — and now Bloomberg’s money looks set to pour in

With Mike Bloomberg exiting the Democratic presidential race and endorsing Joe Biden, a key question now is how much of the big-spending billionaire’s money will go toward helping his former rival’s campaign.

Economists might not say it out loud, U.S. recession risks are above 50%, Zandi says

Private-sector hiring rose 183,000 in February, according to a report from ADP released Wednesday.

Coronavirus is bigger stock-market driver than presidential politics, this chart shows

It’s hard to disentangle all the drivers behind the stock market’s moves, but a look at prediction markets indicates recent moves have been more about the coronavirus than the battle for the Democratic presidential nomination, says one Wall Street analyst.

Deep Dive: These stocks soared the most after Biden burned Bernie on Super Tuesday

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U.S. stocks staged a massive rally Wednesday, with health-care companies leading the charge after former Vice President Joe Biden jumped ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders in the race toward the Democratic presidential nomination.

After Biden took 10 of 14 states Super Tuesday to overtake Sanders in the delegate count and become the Democratic front runner, Michael Bloomberg dropped out of the race and threw his support behind Biden, following Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg over the previous few days.

Investors sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +4.53%  1,173 points higher to close at 27,090.86. The S&P 500 SPX, +4.22%  shot up 4.2% to 3,130.12, bringing the benchmark index within 8% of its closing high Feb. 19. The Nasdaq Composite Index COMP, +3.85%  added 3.9% to close at 9,018.09.

The health-care sector of the S&P 500 was up 5.8% on Wednesday, reflecting an easing of worry of what socialized medicine — championed by Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren — would mean for the nation’s largest health-service providers and insurers. The top five performers of the S&P 500 were all managed-care providers. They are listed below.

Read: Executives are buying their own companies’ beaten-down stocks — here are nine with large purchases

Biden’s comeback took the coronavirus out of the top headlines for a day, although the Federal Reserve’s Beige Book, published Wednesday, included anecdotes indicating the coronavirus would disrupt supply chains over coming weeks, but also that U.S. economic growth had slowed even before the outbreak of the virus.

Dow 30

All 30 components of the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended higher Wednesday:

Company Ticker Price change – March 4, 2020 Price change since Feb. 19 Decline from 52-week high Price change – 2020 Price change – 2019
UnitedHealth Group Inc. UNH, +10.72% 10.7% -5.2% -5.6% -1.6% 18.0%
American Express Co. AXP, +7.12% 7.1% -15.5% -16.2% -7.1% 30.6%
Pfizer Inc. PFE, +6.12% 6.1% 0.5% -18.3% -7.1% -10.2%
3M Co. MMM, +6.02% 6.0% -3.4% -30.0% -12.8% -7.4%
Johnson & Johnson JNJ, +5.82% 5.8% -3.7% -7.1% -1.6% 13.0%
Home Depot Inc. HD, +5.76% 5.7% -1.1% -2.6% 10.4% 27.1%
Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. WBA, +5.57% 5.6% -6.5% -31.6% -17.4% -13.7%
Procter & Gamble Co. PG, +5.36% 5.4% -0.7% -2.8% -0.3% 35.9%
Coca-Cola Co. KO, +5.10% 5.1% -1.4% -2.0% 6.4% 16.9%
Travelers Companies Inc. TRV, +4.96% 5.0% -2.2% -15.2% -4.0% 14.4%
United Technologies Corp. UTX, +4.91% 4.9% -7.7% -12.2% -7.1% 40.6%
Merck & Co. Inc. MRK, +4.85% 4.9% 1.2% -10.4% -8.8% 19.0%
Intel Corp. INTC, +4.84% 4.8% -12.6% -15.3% -2.0% 27.5%
Apple Inc. AAPL, +4.64% 4.6% -6.5% -7.7% 3.1% 86.2%
Visa Inc. Class A V, +4.61% 4.6% -8.9% -9.3% 3.4% 42.4%
Chevron Corp. CVX, +4.39% 4.4% -11.0% -22.6% -18.2% 10.8%
Verizon Communications Inc. VZ, +4.34% 4.3% -0.2% -6.6% -5.3% 9.2%
International Business Machines Corp. IBM, +4.13% 4.1% -11.0% -15.5% 0.1% 17.9%
McDonald’s Corp. MCD, +3.76% 3.8% -4.0% -6.7% 4.8% 11.3%
Microsoft Corp. MSFT, +3.67% 3.7% -8.9% -10.6% 8.1% 55.3%
Walmart Inc. WMT, +3.42% 3.4% -0.8% -6.9% -1.7% 27.6%
Cisco Systems Inc. CSCO, +3.37% 3.4% -10.6% -29.0% -13.7% 10.7%
Dow Inc. DOW, +3.33% 3.3% -11.9% -30.8% -23.5% #N/A
Nike Inc. Class B NKE, +3.15% 3.1% -8.5% -11.2% -7.4% 36.6%
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS, +2.61% 2.6% -12.0% -16.7% -9.2% 37.6%
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. JPM, +2.47% 2.5% -12.8% -15.1% -14.0% 42.8%
Caterpillar Inc. CAT, +2.43% 2.4% -6.9% -15.4% -13.7% 16.2%
Walt Disney Co. DIS, +2.34% 2.3% -15.7% -22.3% -17.6% 31.9%
Exxon Mobil Corp. XOM, +2.18% 2.2% -13.1% -37.2% -24.9% 2.3%
Boeing Co. BA, +0.89% 0.9% -16.3% -36.5% -13.1% 1.0%
Source: FactSet

You can click on the tickers for more about each company.

S&P 500

Among the S&P 500, 475 stocks ended higher Wednesday. Here are the day’s 10 best performers:

Company Ticker Price change – March 4, 2020 Price change since Feb. 19 Decline from 52-week high Price change – 2020 Price change – 2019
Anthem Inc. ANTM, +15.62% 15.6% -2.5% -5.1% -1.9% 15.0%
Centene Corp. CNC, +15.60% 15.6% -7.3% -9.0% -0.7% 9.1%
Humana Inc. HUM, +14.44% 14.4% -1.6% -3.3% 1.6% 27.9%
Cigna Corp. CI, +10.72% 10.8% -5.3% -6.7% 2.5% 7.7%
UnitedHealth Group Inc. UNH, +10.72% 10.7% -5.2% -5.6% -1.6% 18.0%
L Brands Inc. LB, +10.28% 10.2% -1.1% -16.1% 34.3% -29.4%
Campbell Soup Co. CPB, +10.11% 10.2% 10.4% 1.4% 6.8% 49.8%
Eli Lilly and Co. LLY, +7.73% 7.8% -0.3% -5.0% 6.8% 13.6%
Equifax Inc. EFX, +7.67% 7.7% 0.6% -1.2% 16.2% 50.5%
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. VRTX, +7.47% 7.5% -1.0% -1.8% 12.0% 32.1%
Source: FactSet

Here are the 10 best performer among components of the Nasdaq-100 Index NDX, +4.13%  on Wednesday:

Company Ticker Price change – March 4, 2020 Price change since Feb. 19 Decline from 52-week high Price change – 2020 Price change – 2019
Seattle Genetics Inc. SGEN, +7.99% 8.0% -10.4% -6.7% 1.5% 101.7%
Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. VRTX, +7.47% 7.5% -7.9% -1.8% 12.0% 32.1%
Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. TTWO, +7.37% 7.4% -2.0% -12.0% -2.5% 18.9%
Advanced Micro Devices Inc. AMD, +7.19% 7.2% -20.6% -15.5% 9.3% 148.4%
Nvidia Corp. NVDA, +7.00% 7.0% -15.5% -10.1% 20.9% 76.3%
Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc. REGN, +6.92% 6.9% 15.2% -0.2% 31.4% 0.5%
Micron Technology Inc. MU, +6.74% 6.7% -13.7% -9.6% 2.8% 69.5%
Monster Beverage Corp. MNST, +6.69% 6.7% -9.0% -3.5% 7.1% 29.1%
CoStar Group Inc. CSGP, +6.51% 6.5% -6.5% -1.6% 22.8% 77.4%
Activision Blizzard Inc. ATVI, +6.47% 6.5% -8.7% -3.1% 5.3% 27.6%
Source: FactSet

Don’t miss: The coronavirus has sunk cruise line stocks — now it’s time to buy them

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The Moneyist: ‘She wants me to admit I was wrong!’ I asked my abusive daughter to leave home. She refuses to take accountability for her actions. Should I cut her out of my will?

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Dear Moneyist, 

After my divorce nearly 19 years ago, I rented an apartment with my daughter and son. My daughter was 20; my son was 16.

My daughter was resentful of this change, and would constantly fight with me and my son. She would call him derogatory names and say things like “Your son is a f**” and bully him. He started to withdraw, gain weight and do badly in school. She lived with me and worked in Connecticut. Her daily commute was over the Tappan Zee Bridge as we lived in Rockland County.

After trying to talk to her, lovingly and sternly, requesting that she stop being nasty and rude, I asked her to move out. I gave her time to find a place. After refusing to move out, she continued her obnoxious behavior. I finally wrote her a letter in which I outlined that she had to be out of the house by a certain date. I also voiced my concern for her safety driving over the bridge in the winter.

Want to read more? Follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter and read more of his columns here

My daughter finally moved out, but would not tell me anything about her situation. She has been resentful of this for the past 18 years and, to this day, barely talks to me. On the rare occasions that we do speak, she tells me that I threw her out of the house. Now she is requesting therapy so we can mend our relationship and wants me to pay for this, which I’m doing.

During our therapy session we discussed her resentment. She wants me to apologize for “kicking” her out. She wants me to admit that I was wrong! The therapist wants me to go along with this as she says this is the only way I can mend my relationship. I disagree. I want my daughter to take ownership for her bad behavior. That is, after all, what caused this situation. My daughter says that I’m justifying my actions.

The Moneyist: ‘I just don’t care for my stepdaughter.’ I want to give my two kids $100K a year. Would it be wrong to leave my stepdaughter out?

Separately, I told the therapist that I’m fine with apologizing, but not discussing why I asked her to move out is unacceptable. In doing so, my therapist is letting my daughter off the hook. I think my therapist should be giving my daughter feedback to reflect on her bad behavior. The therapist says that I will lose her if I say anything beyond just apologizing.

My therapist now wants me to have a one-on-one session with her so we can “work” on my anger and she can “teach” me how to respond to my daughter. But all this will do is help my daughter not to be accountable for her actions. My therapist says I need to learn how to “communicate” with my daughter as I’m not reaching her, and this way I could lose her.

My therapist says that the fact that my daughter is willing to do therapy is a positive sign. Yes, but my daughter wants to do therapy on her terms. It’s always like that — I have to say and do things on her terms.

Lastly, I’m thinking of updating my will. Can I take her off? Previously, I had listed my assets to be distributed 50/50 with my son and daughter. Now I’m not so sure, mostly due to her lack of engagement in my life and her limited contact with me over the past 18 years.

I have said many times to my daughter that it also hurt me to ask her to leave, but I did so as a last resort. I needed to save my son from this bullying. I have asked for her forgiveness and also sent an email asking for forgiveness. She has not responded, nor has she accepted my apology during our session. What do you think?


Dear V.J.,

I’ll deal with your relationship question first and the issue of your daughter’s inheritance second, but both of these issues may require some difficult self-reflection and humility.

The reason we make amends is to take responsibility for our own behavior. An apology is not conditional: “I’m sorry, not sorry. Now you say you’re sorry.” In every relationship, there are things we need to take accountability for. Your daughter may have been abusive and acted out, but unless you were the perfect mother, you will also have things to take ownership of too.

You don’t say what other problems, if any, your daughter has been dealing with. Everyone has physical, mental and emotional health. That includes you, me and, yes, your daughter. It falls on a scale, and often moves in one direction or another over the course of our lives.

My job here is not to question your abilities as a mother, but rather encourage you to search your own heart (before you look into your finances) and ask yourself the hard questions. It may be that your reluctance to acknowledge any wrongdoing and persistent anger toward your daughter has given your therapist some pause for thought. I agree that a one-on-one session would be helpful.

The Moneyist: ‘What did he do with all the money?’ My dying husband cashed his $700K life insurance and emptied his bank accounts

That said, I agree that it’s important to have your voice heard in group therapy. You can’t proceed with a healthy relationship — or, for that matter, any kind of relationship — without believing you have both been heard. That is the point of a mother and daughter airing their feelings in an controlled environment like this. Yes, you are the parent. But you need to begin anew free of baggage.

However — you probably knew this was coming — there are ways to be heard that won’t scupper any future chance of having a relationship. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t care. Your daughter wouldn’t give her time to these sessions if she didn’t care about the relationship. The ideal outcome: You renew your relationship with fresh understanding. Otherwise, I hope both you get some closure.

The Moneyist: ‘My husband’s ex-mistress is ruining our life.’ She claims she gave birth to his child and is extorting us for money

I will give you some examples, and you can do the rest. Instead of saying, “You were a bully and an abusive person who made our lives a misery,” say, “It hurt me when you said bad things about your brother.” Or, “I didn’t like it when you said I was a bad mother. It hurt my feelings.” If she responds by mentioning something you said in anger, say, “I should not have said that. I apologize.”

In other words, tell her how certain events made you feel. Don’t tell her how you think she can be a better person or that she is or was a bad person. You can, however, agree to a covenant of how to deal with your differences going forward: no committing intemperate words to email or text, no name-calling. You may have to move foward without the apology you are hoping for.

The Moneyist: My father left everything to my son. When I called the attorney about the will, my son got very upset. I now need financial help. Should I ask him for money?

If this works, the question of your last will and testament may take care of itself. It’s not my job to tell you whether you should or shouldn’t cut your daughter out of your will. I can make suggestions, and ask you more questions. Would this give you satisfaction? If the roles were reversed, how would this make you feel? Is this the final lesson (and message) you would like to give your daughter? It may be that you put a certain amount in a trust to be spent on education, property and/or dished out in installments.

Almost every issue in life has some financial ramification or component, and vice versa. Let me know how this works out. I wish you and your daughter financial and personal success.

The Moneyist: My father-in-law’s business went south and my mother-in-law has never worked a day in her life. How can I avoid supporting them?

Do you have questions about inheritance, tipping, weddings, family feuds, friends or any tricky issues relating to manners and money? Send them to MarketWatch’s Moneyist and please include the state where you live (no full names will be used).

By submitting your story to Dow Jones & Company, the publisher of MarketWatch, you understand and agree that we may use your story, or versions of it, in all media and platforms, including via third parties.

Would you like to sign up to an email alert when a new Moneyist column has been published? If so, click on this link.

The Moneyist: My mom asked for a divorce. My dad made his mother his pension beneficiary — and then he killed himself. Now my mom and grandma are feuding. Who’s right?

Hello there, MarketWatchers. Check out the Moneyist private Facebook FB, +2.09%  group where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write in to me with all sorts of dilemmas: inheritance, wills, divorce, tipping, gifting. I often talk to lawyers, accountants, financial advisers and other experts, in addition to offering my own thoughts. I receive more letters than I could ever answer, so I’ll be bringing all of that guidance — including some you might not see in these columns — to this group. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.

More from MarketWatch

Dogecoin (DOGE) Gets Support from Tesla CEO Elon Musk

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Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) CEO Elon Musk has voiced his support for Dogecoin (DOGE) just a month after offering skeptical remarks regarding the largest cryptocurrency, Bitcoin (BTC).

Musk Publicly Endorses Dogecoin

Musk, who is a huge fan of DOGE, declared his endorsement for the altcoin on March 3 through a tweet. However, his initial tweet was not actually related to crypto but was instead a meme that he captioned “Dogs roc,” which was followed by another tweet stating “they have the best coin,” which was in reference to Dogecoin.

Interestingly, this is not the first time Musk is expressing positive sentiment toward Dogecoin. In April last year, the SpaceX and Tesla CEO tweeted that DOGE was his favorite crypto, indicating at the time that it was pretty cool.

Through collaborative efforts with Jackson Palmer, Dogecoin’s creator, Musk has been fighting against crypto scammers on Twitter. The renowned tech entrepreneur was voted on Twitter to be the CEO of Dogecoin, coming ahead of the likes of Litecoin creator Charlie Lee and Ethereum (ETH) co-founder Vitalik Buterin.

Dogecoin Mainly Used in Tipping Content Creators on Twitter

Dogecoin is an altcoin that forked from Litecoin on December 6, 2013, and it shows a resemblance to the Shiba Inu dog from the internet meme “Doge,” which is its logo. Although the crypto token began as a joke, it expanded fast and gained traction in the crypto community, and by January of 2014, it had a market capitalization of $60 million. Currently, the coin ranks 33rd out of the top 100 cryptocurrencies, with a market capitalization of $307 million.

>> MoneyGram Receives $11 Million Cash Injection from Ripple

The coin is primarily used on Twitter and Reddit to tip content creators and publishers for their creativity. The creators of Dogecoin intended it to have a greater appeal in the crypto industry compared to the Bitcoin audience.

Following the endorsement of the coin by Musk, DOGE has seen a surge in attention.

Featured image: DepositPhotos © jirkaejc

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Key Words: Watch Alex Trebek give an emotional cancer update: ‘There were moments of great pain’

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Can I get “Pass me a tissue” for $100, Alex?

Beloved “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek shared a one-year update on his pancreatic cancer diagnosis on Wednesday, revealing the highs and lows of his treatment in an emotional video posted to the game show’s official Twitter TWTR, +1.22%  account.

Trebek, 79, opened the roughly two-minute clip with the uplifting news that he has beaten the odds so far; the one-year survival rate for stage four pancreatic cancer is just 18%, and he is “very happy to report” that he’s reached that milestone.

But he noted that, “I’d be lying if I said the journey had been an easy one,” as he has suffered moments of “great pain,” as well as “not-so-good days” when his body simply wouldn’t function over the past several months.

“I joked with friends that the cancer won’t kill me; the chemo treatments will,” he said with his trademark dry sense of humor.

Related: ‘I wish I had known sooner’: Alex Trebek wants you to learn the signs of pancreatic cancer

But Trebek’s voice wavered a bit as he disclosed just how low the treatment has made him feel at times. Indeed, he told Canada’s CTV last year that he has experienced joint pain, vision issues and extreme fatigue as a result of his chemotherapy. And treatment takes a financial toll, as well, with one 2012 study finding that the total direct medical costs of pancreatic-cancer treatment adding up to more than $65,500 per patient, on average, with a marginal cost increase over time.

‘There were … sudden, massive attacks of great depression that made me wonder if it really was worth fighting on. But I brushed that aside very quickly, because that would have been a massive betrayal.’

But Trebek explained that giving up would have betrayed his wife and family, the millions of fans who have prayed for him, as well as fellow cancer patients that have looked to him as a “cheerleader” for inspiration.

The two-year survival rate for this type of cancer diagnosis is 7%. And while Trebek said his oncologist thinks he’ll reach the second survival milestone, as well, the host appeared to temper his expectations, and vowed to just keep taking each day as it comes while hoping for the best.

“If we — because so many of us are involved this same situation — if we take it just one day at a time with a positive attitude, anything is possible,” he concluded. “I’ll keep you posted.”

Watch it here:

Outside the Box: Why now is the time to hang onto cash

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During every period of stock market losses SPX, +1.89%, financial prognosticators far and wide tell you to buy as much stock as you can, touting the old party line that “everything is on sale.”

It’s too soon to know if the few-weeks-old global market roller coaster is a blip, an overdue correction at the end of a historically long bull market, or the beginning of a full-blown global recession. Certainly the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank believes the risk of full-blown recession is real, with their announcement this week of cutting rates by a half point. But we do know that the current market volatility is quite different from other similar periods we’ve faced in the past. It’s a reaction to something very real: the new coronavirus spreading rapidly around the world, which epidemiologists at the World Health Organization (WHO) say is highly likely to become a global pandemic.

Read Market Snapshot

So while stocks are likely to be “on sale” quite a bit in the coming weeks and months, cash savings are more important right now than they’ve been in a long time. Before you go loading up on stock, it’s essential that you take a close look at your cash savings — your liquid assets, most especially savings accounts — to ensure that you’re well insulated against the impacts of a possible recession and likely pandemic.

If this is, in fact, the beginning of a sustained recession, then you will have plenty more opportunities to buy stocks at prices equal to or lower than those today or last week. If this is simply a blip, then you’re unlikely to be able to buy enough shares right at this moment to make a meaningful difference in your future financial well-being anyway. In other words: you’re not missing out on the opportunity of a lifetime if you focus for a short time on ensuring that your cash savings are well supplied.

The pandemic potential

If a global pandemic becomes reality, and even if it doesn’t, we’re going to see supply chain and work disruptions all over the world, as we’re already seeing with goods made in China, including everything from iPhones AAPL, +2.30% to critical pharmaceutical products.

Especially in the U.S., where workers are not guaranteed paid sick leave or affordable health insurance, we can expect employees to go to work sick, in turn spreading the virus more widely, taking a toll on employers and economic output at every level. Experts believe right now that the virus has a fatality rate of about 2%, but the rate of those who will need to be out of work for a time, whether to be treated or simply to be quarantined out of caution, is certain to be far higher. That will affect the economy in ways large and small.

We’ve already seen one example of this as Americans race to stock up on supplies to protect themselves from the coronavirus: hand sanitizer and face masks have become scarce resources, with many stores and online outlets sold out, and others charging exorbitant prices for what have generally been inexpensive products. (The Surgeon General is urging healthy people to stop buying face masks because of this.) If the virus continues to spread, we can expect to see more products go up in price, or perhaps higher inflation generally in response to consumers hoarding goods out of fear. And it’s possible we could see far greater impacts from the virus akin to those we saw during the Great Recession, with massive job losses affecting millions of Americans.

The impact of an extended recession

If you’ve been an investor over the last decade, it’s easy to let the record-setting gains you’ve piled up fool you into forgetting how long it actually took the U.S. and the world economy to recover from the Great Recession. In fact, more than 12 years after it began, there are still mutual funds that never fully recovered when you account for inflation, and millions of 20- and 30-somethings who graduated from college into the recession and have still never found full-time work.

This week, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said that if the coronavirus continues to spread, it could cut projected growth for the world economy in half for 2020 and push the U.S. into zero or negative growth as soon as the second quarter of this year, with full recession likely by year’s end. While we all hope that recession would be less severe than our most recent one, it’s important to remember the lessons the Great Recession taught us.

During the Great Recession, millions of people lost jobs, and millions more saw their hours cut, which reduced their pay. Huge numbers of those folks were out of work for the long-term, many for years. Analysis by the Brookings Institution showed that, not only was long-term joblessness during the Great Recession a major financial obstacle for the millions of people had to deal with, but it translates into lower future earnings for them for more than two decades after they return to work. Even if you do not find yourself out of work, others certainly will, and many of those people are your customers or clients. It took until early 2016 — more than eight years — to return to unemployment rates at their late-2007 levels.

And unlike the Great Recession, whose impact was blunted in large part by monetary policy and intervention by Congress and the Fed, a recession driven by a global pandemic will not have the same remedies available.

This week, central banks signaled their intention to act to mitigate the effects of the pandemic, and the Fed cut rates, but with major labor impacts likely to happen around the world, there is only so much they can do — and, in fact, markets quickly resumed their dive within hours of the Fed’s announcement. We will need the world to return to health and full economic output again before we see economic fears subside, which could take time, depending how severe the pandemic ends up being.

All of which means: you need to prepare to be out of work, potentially for an extended period, and that means keeping some of your assets in cash.

Balancing saving cash against investing for retirement (or early retirement)

If you’re investing for the future, that is a good thing, and a looming recession is not a reason to stop investing. If anything, it’s exactly the time to keep investing. However, if you’re saving for traditional or early retirement but are otherwise still reliant on an income, being out of work or being paid less because of a shrinking economy could leave you well prepared for the future but ill-equipped for the present if you’re not also setting cash aside.

I’ve written before about the bleak employment data for those over the age of 50, and the need to be financially prepared for retirement well before you actually plan to leave the workplace. In fact, for those 55 and over, unemployment rates have never regained their pre-Great Recession levels. So assuming that you can focus on investing now and catch up on your cash savings later may come back to bite you.

Read: Holding on to a job after age 50 isn’t always easy

And for younger savers, it’s critical to understand that the job market sees you as most expendable. Unemployment rates were highest among those ages 20-44 during the Great Recession, with nearly a quarter of those 25-34 out of work in 2015, seven years after the recession began.

If you’re near or in retirement or early retirement, wise retirement advisers recommend, as I do in my book, that retirees carry at least two years’ worth of expenses in cash, preferably closer to three years. That’s to insulate you against having to sell shares or exercise another contingency like selling your home to downsize when stock and real-estate markets are in the red. At a time like this, that advice is all the more important, and you may consider adding to that cash buffer even more if you can, or cutting your spending to stretch it, at least until we have some sense of whether we’re facing down a recession or not.

Poor market returns early in your retirement, known as sequence of returns risk or simply sequence risk, are the single biggest predictor of portfolio failure, and your best defense against sequence risk is a cash buffer.

For those not yet concerned about stretching your investments in retirement, it’s still essential to have a plan for how you would weather being out of work for six months, a year, or even longer. Ideally that means having well-stocked liquid cash accounts on hand with at least a full year’s worth of expenses. If you already have that, then continue on with your investment strategy. If you don’t, this is the time to reassess your saving and investing approach until you have enough cash set aside to weather a potentially lengthy storm.

Once you have that taken care of, then carry on buying that discounted stock.

Moroccan tiles or subway tiles? These keywords can help boost the sale price of your home by 10%

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Does your home look like something that HGTV stars Chip and Joanna Gaines would design? If so, buyers may be more prepared to pay a pretty penny for it.

A new report from real-estate website Zillow ZG, +0.82%  examines the home features that earn the biggest premiums and help homes move off the market fastest. Researchers examined millions of listings of homes sold in 2018 and 2019 to determine which features were highlighted. They then compared the homes sale price to the estimated value Zillow recorded for the property a month before it was listed.

The most lucrative feature, based on Zillow’s analysis, was the modern farmhouse aesthetic, which was popularized on the Gaines’ television show “Fixer Upper.” Using the phrase “modern farmhouse” in a listing resulted in an average final sale-price premium of 10.3%, Zillow found.

Don’t miss: What the Fed’s surprise interest rate cut means for mortgage rates

Other rustic, country features also proved to be popular with buyers. “Craftsman” style homes and exposed brick both attracted a 6% price premium. A metal roof garnered a 5.1% premium when the house sold, while barn doors fetched a 5% boost to a home’s sale price.

“A lot of people aren’t actually buying farmhouses, but they’re trying to incorporate the farmhouse style in their design,” Amanda Pendleton, lifestyle expert at Zillow, told MarketWatch.

Home amenities that attract the highest sales premiums
Feature Final sale-price premium
Modern farmhouse 10.3%
Waterfall counter-top 9.4%
Moroccan tile 7.3%
Craftsman 6%
Exposed brick 6%
Free-standing tub/bath 5.5%
Quartz 5.5%
Dual range/fuel 5.3%
Metal roof 5.1%
Pet/dog spa/wash/shower 5.1%

While the country vibe still remains popular, Zillow’s research also pointed to other popular and emerging trends in home décor, including some that show how buyers’ preferences are shifting.

Moroccan tile, which features bright colors and mosaic patterns, attracted a 7.3% sales premium, much higher than subway tile, which only netted a 1.7% premium when the property sold. “We had seen subway tiles dominate for years,” Pendleton said. “To see Moroccan tile beat it out this year was surprising. It’s a real style choice.”

Zillow considered a home’s pre-listing estimate, Zillow’s own best estimate of a home’s value, the home’s final sale price and the number of days it was on the market. Listings with each feature were compared with listings of homes without them, controlling for size, age and location of the homes, the time of year the property was listed, and the presence of any of the other keywords in the survey.

Zillow Z, +0.86%  also analyzed what home features, when mentioned in a sale listing, help a property sell faster. Many of these attributes were examples eco-friendly choices or smart home technology. Smart sprinkler systems ranked No. 1, and homes with these systems sold 15 days faster. Similarly, drought-resistant landscaping, smart lights and smart thermostats led to homes selling between 5 and 12 days faster, the study said.

To an extent, the interest in eco-friendly amenities was a shift from the past, Pendleton said. “People consistently say that buying an energy-efficient home is important to them, but they hadn’t put their money where their mouth is until now,” she said.

The coronavirus may force many Americans to work from home — but only a fraction can actually do that

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Getty Images/iStockphoto
Around 36 million workers did at least some portion of their work at home — but will that change if the coronavirus outbreak intensifies?

As the coronavirus spreads, companies are increasingly weighing if they should, or even can, have workers do their jobs from home.

Earlier this week, San Francisco-based Twitter TWTR, +0.03%  told its employees to work from home to slow the coronavirus’ spread, echoing large-scale work-from-home efforts that are already happening in affected countries like China and Japan.

Even in a time of emails, internal message systems like Slack WORK, +1.39% and videoconferencing like Zoom ZM, -1.66%, federal data suggests it would be difficult, if not impossible, for many people to work from home on a wide scale — and that’s even if they do have a desk job.

Nearly 29% of U.S. workers said they could work from home in 2017-18, and a slightly smaller share, nearly 25%, said they actually did so, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics figures. The BLS looked at all workers age 15 and above who were not self-employed.

These workers tended to have more education and be in administrative roles. Half of workers in management, business and financial operations said they did at least some work at home, and 38% of workers in “professional related” jobs could do so, according to the agency’s count. By comparison, only 5% of workers in the service sector and 7.4% in maintenance and repair said they could work at home.

Higher earners were also much more likely to have the opportunity for remote work, according to the agency. Eight percent of people making up to $630 weekly worked from home on any given day, but 35% of workers making at least $1,531 worked from home.

The BLS numbers focused on workers who devoted some time to work at home, but U.S. Census numbers say the share of people who exclusively work at home is much smaller — about 5.2% of all workers in 2017.

Differing consequences?

The prospect of coronavirus-caused remote work is another example of how the virus may have different consequences for different workers. For example, low-wage and gig workers might have to leave their house, and possibly put themselves in harm’s way, because most have no paid sick leave.

There were 92,303 COVID-19 cases globally as of Tuesday, including 106 confirmed cases in America.

Yana Rodgers, an economist and Rutgers University serving as the faculty director for the school’s Center for Women and Work, pointed out that more women work in the service sector, healthcare and education. “These involve direct contact with people, which cannot be done at home,” she said.

Rodgers noted women are more likely to do the unpaid care for family around the house. (BLS numbers back her up, showing women typically spend twice the amount of time every day caring for family members compared to men.)

“If there’s a silver lining in this … it could be we have this shock to the system where it becomes a bit more normal for men to be contributing more equally to unpaid care work than they were before,” Rodgers said.

It’s not so simple to say that people with desk jobs would uniformly fare better if the coronavirus outbreak spurs more remote work.

Ian James, a Pittsburgh, Pa.-based business process consultant, works with office-based companies in the information processing sector, handling tasks like mortgage application and medical billing. These are primarily desk jobs — and even still, James estimates less than half of companies’ employees could perform their jobs if they had to suddenly had to stay home during any further spread of the coronavirus.

Direct sales requires face time and management requires an in-person touch, James noted. There can also be IT challenges in establishing a secure remote computing network, he added.

All his clients are weighing in varying levels of seriousness whether to use work-from-home policies, he said. “They are making plans internally for how to cope, but there’s so much uncertainty on how hard this is going to strike. At the moment, a lot of companies are struggling to get to grips with the issues based on very little information,” James said.

The challenges of remote work

Many companies can accommodate part-time remote work temporarily, but any long-term arrangements will be far more difficult, said Nicholas Bloom, a professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Bloom studied a Chinese travel agency’s 2010 experiment letting some employees work from home four out of five days. That led to a 13% performance increase for the remote workers, his research found.

But that study was conducted under different circumstances, without the coronavirus looming. If workers need to do all their work from home for lengthy amounts of time, Bloom said, “the long run impact would be large — typically motivation, creativity and new ideas come from group involvement.” An extended period of more than one or two weeks of working from home could be damaging for economic growth, he said.

Older workers and those with families were usually happy to work from home, according to Bloom’s research, but it was a tougher experience for young and single workers. “Full time working from home is very isolating, so we could potentially see a rise of mental health issues around depression if large number of employees are forced to work from home for extended periods, particularly single and younger employees,” he said.

Isolation could be a problem for some workers, agreed Raj Choudhury, a Harvard Business School professor focused on the rise of the “geography of work” and the rise of the remote workplace. But it can be avoided with some planning and pairing with mentors who will check in, he said.

The coronavirus could be forcing a natural experiment across the globe on remote work, Choudhury said. He’s previously studied the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s decision to let patent examiners work from anywhere in the United States, instead of the Alexandria, Va. office. The widely-dispersed examiners had a 4.4% increase in output, Choudhury discovered.

Choudhury sees a desire for remote work elsewhere. He pointed to a February survey from the consulting firm Deloitte, which found 82% of white-collar worker using flexible work options. That includes 41% who opted to work from home.

“Given the latent demand for” the ability to work from home, Choudhury said remote work caused by the coronavirus “might be a game changer. …. Many companies will be forced to do this and will discover the benefit of this, both for the company and the worker.”

More from MarketWatch

Metals Stocks: Gold edges lower, but remains underpinned by falling bond yields

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Gold futures edged lower Wednesday as equities bounced back, dulling its haven appeal, but the yellow metal remains underpinned as government bond yields remain under pressure in the wake of an emergency interest rate cut a day earlier by the Federal Reserve.

Gold for April delivery GCJ20, -0.19%  on Comex fell 70 cents, or 0.1%, to $1,643.70 an ounce, while May silver SIK20, -0.10%  was down 2.8 cents, or 0.2%, to $17.16 an ounce.

Gold saw sharp gains Tuesday as investors dumped equities and other assets perceived as risky for traditional havens, including Treasurys and precious metals, after the Federal Reserve delivered an emergency, intermeeting rate cut of 50 basis points in an effort to cushion the economy from any disruptions tied to the spread of COVID-19. Treasury prices soared, pushing down yields, with the rate on the 10-year note TMUBMUSD10Y, -0.10%  dropping below 1% for the first time.

“The Fed has given gold bulls a shot in the arm, as rising expectations for more coordinated policy easing by global central banks offer fresh upside to bullion prices,” said Han Tan, market analyst at FXTM, in a note. “Even if the human toll from the coronavirus outbreak were to stabilize over the immediate term, investors still have to wait to find out what the eventual global economic cost is over the coming months. Gold is expected to remain supported amid such drawn-out uncertainties.”

The drop in Treasury and other global bond yields was seen as a boost for gold, reducing the opportunity cost of holding a nonyielding asset.

U.S. stocks, however, were in rebound mode Wednesday, with futures pointing to a sharp jump for equities after the previous session’s tumble.

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