By Jack Kelly
Things are pretty crazy. No, I’m not talking about President Donald Trump, Speaker Nancy Pelosi or the mask vs no-mask fights. What boggles my mind is the disconnect between the stock market—which is back to where it was pre-Covid-19—and the lives of everyday Americans.
As some stocks are hitting all-time highs, we’ve seen a staggering amount of well-known major corporations file for bankruptcy protection.
Check out the list below, as it will blow your mind away!
Aldo Group: The shoe retailer, which has a chain of 700 stores and employed some 8,000 people, went bankrupt in May.
Ascena Retail Group Inc.: The company behind clothing chains Ann Taylor and Lane Bryant filed Chapter 11 in July.
Bluestem Brands: The owner of the Fingerhut catalog went bankrupt and sold assets to lenders led by Cerberus Capital.
Brooks Brothers: The retailer, founded in 1818, filed for bankruptcy in July and was sold for $325 million to mall operator Simon Property Group Inc. (NYSE: SPG) and Authentic Brands Group in August.
Centric Brands: The company behind licensed brands like Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and Nautica filed for bankruptcy in May with $435 million of DIP financing.
Century 21 Department Stores LLC the iconic New York city-based retailer confirmed plans to close all 13 of its stores and liquidate assets as part of a chapter 11 process.
Chuck E. Cheese: The children’s party venue, Chuck E. Cheese, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Garbanzo Mediterranean Grill: The franchise filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Aug. 12 after 48% of its stores brought in no revenue since mid-March.
GNC: The vitamins and supplements chain filed for bankruptcy in June with plans to close up to 1,200 stores.
Hertz: Car rental giant, crashed under the weight of the covid outbreak.
J.C. Penney: The legendary one hundred year old department store filed in May.
J. Crew filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on May 4. It emerged from proceedings in August.
Lord & Taylor: A 2019 sale to French rental clothing company Le Tote Inc. couldn’t prevent the department store chain from going bankrupt in August.
Lucky Brand: The Los Angeles-based dungarees company went bankrupt and closed 13 of its 200 retail stores. It was sold in August for more than $140 million.
Modell’s Sporting Goods: The retailer sought bankruptcy protection in March due to diminished sales of sports apparel and millions in unpaid debts to vendors and landlords.
Muji USA: The Japanese retailer, with $64 million in debt, went bankrupt citing pricey rent payments.
Neiman Marcus: The luxury retailer went bankrupt as a result of roughly billion in debt stemming from a 2013 private equity deal with Ares Management and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.
The Paper Store: The 55-year-old family-run retailer pursued a Chapter 11 restructuring and closed 86 store locations.
Pier 1 Imports Inc.: The Fort Worth, Texas-based company began liquidating ahead of this year’s Memorial Day holiday weekend.
RTW Retailwinds Inc.: The New York & Co. owner plans to permanently close most, if not all, of its stores.
Stage Stores: The company behind Palais Royal, Bealls and Goody’s (some 738 stores) opted for liquidation.
SFP Franchise Corp.: The Papyrus parent filed with .9 million in total liabilities.
Sur La Table: The kitchenware company known for its in-store cooking classes will close 51 of its 120 stores.
Stein Mart Inc.: The discount retailer announced plans to close some 300 stores, citing $197.8 million in debt at the end of the first quarter.
Tailored Brands Inc.: The owner of Men’s Wearhouse has liabilities of up to $10 billion and will shutter about 500 stores.
True Religion Apparel Inc.: With 0 million in assets and liabilities, this is the second time in three years that True Religion filed for bankruptcy.
Tuesday Morning Corp. : The company will shut a third of its nearly 700 stores.
There’s even more companies, but it’s too exhausting to list them all.
It’s not just bankruptcies. Over 60 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. Seven months into the outbreak, top companies have executed massive layoffs recently.
WarnerMedia told the Wall Street Journal on Oct. 8 that it plans to cut thousands of jobs in order to reduce costs by 20%.
Southwest was asking its labor unions to accept pay cuts to dodge furloughs and layoffs through the end of next year. Previously, the airline offered extended leave and exit packages. Roughly 28% of its workforce accepted such packages in July.
Cineworld, which owns Picturehouse and Regal, closed all of its theaters worldwide on Oct. 5. The closures impact 40,000 jobs in the U.S.
Exxon was laying off 1,600 employees in Europe as of Oct. 5. The cuts represent 2% of its global workforce.
American Airlines had previously announced cutting 20% of the company’s workforce upon the expiration of federal aid. The airline was set to furlough 19,000 employees on Oct. 1.
United Airlines furloughed 13,000 people. The company had previously said 16,370 jobs would be impacted by cuts.
Goldman Sachs is cutting 400 jobs.
Allstate, the home and auto insurer, said it would lay off 3,800 employees—or 8% of its workforce.
Shell is cutting up to 9,000 jobs—or roughly 10% of its workforce.
Disney announced on Sept. 29 that it was cutting 28,000 jobs from its theme parks division.
Ralph Lauren said it would cut its global workforce by about 15% on Sept. 22.
Carnival Cruise Line is laying off an unspecified “small number” of its crew members, as it reduces its fleet size. The cuts represent the company’s second round of layoffs this year.
Raytheon Technologies announced it will cut 15,000 jobs on Sept. 17.
Kohl’s is cutting 15% of its corporate workforce.
Dell told employees on Sept. 14 that it will start eliminating an unspecified number of jobs in an effort to cut costs.
Citigroup will continue laying off roughly 1% of its global workforce, the company announced on Sept. 14.
Ford is offering buyouts to 1,400 workers eligible for retirement this year in the U.S. The Sept. 2 cuts make up just under 5% of the company’s U.S. workforce.
MGM Resorts is laying off 18,000 previously furloughed employees starting Aug. 28.
Coca-Cola said it plans to offer voluntary-separation packages to 4,000 employees in North America on August 28.
Salesforce started to lay off 1,000.
Delta Airlines plans to furlough 1,941 pilots.
Boeing committed to cutting its massive staff by 10%.
AT&T laid off an additional 54 people in its marketing division on Aug. 6 after laying off 3,400 employees in June.
L Brands, the parent company of Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, said it would lay off 15% of its workforce on July 28.
Creative Artists Agency, a major Los Angeles talent firm, announced layoffs on July 28. It will layoff 90 agents and furlough 275 assistants—or nearly 20% of its workforce.
Oilfield services company Schlumberger said it is cutting roughly 21,000 jobs on July 24.
Tailored Brands, the parent company behind Men’s Wearhouse and Jos. A. Bank, said it expects to layoff 20% of its workforce.
LinkedIn said it would cut 960 jobs—6% of its global workforce—on July 21.
Once again, the complete list is so exhaustive that I could keep going, but I gotta stop to protect yours and my sanity.
So, back to my original point. It seems bizarre that all of these people have been laid off and the stock market is doing just fine. Experts say that the stock market is a forward-looking barometer. The smart money is placing it’s bets on the belief that conditions will improve. Their model includes a vaccine—which had disappointing results today, bringing down the market—that will be developed and distributed within a reasonable time frame and there won’t be a horrendous second wave of the outbreak. They’re also calculating that the election will go off smoothly and a winner selected without too much civil unrest or violence and mayhem in the streets.
The disconnect is also partly due to the fact that uber-wealthy and upper-middle-class families, hedge funds and institutional money managers lack an alternative to the stock market. Bank accounts pay nearly nothing and commercial real estate is going to get crushed by the work-from-home trend.
Although many Americans are hurting, the rich have become richer. So much money is flowing into securities that it feels like a ponzi scheme. We have the reemergence of day traders opening thousands of accounts at Robinhood and other brokerage firms and betting that stocks will only go higher.
There’s also the hope and fairytale that once we get past the pandemic, it will be like a light switch turning on. Companies will then aggressively start rehiring people and the furloughed folks will get their jobs back. Businesses that went bankrupt will be scooped up by private equity firms and investors with deep pockets.
Sadly, there will be those who fall by the wayside. It’s feasible that there will be a significant number of people who won’t get their jobs back. They may be chronically unemployed or underemployed. Some may take minimum-wage jobs at the Home Depot or Walmart for some money and health benefits or migrate to the gig economy—not by choice but rather out of desperation.
This is the K-rebound economy that the Wall Street experts talk about. The upward trajectory of the top line of the K represents the rich making bank and the lower line reflects the not- so-lucky folks, going down the slope into the poor house.