Most people will have more on their minds right now than a possible 20pc fall in house prices. There was a time when even a hint that house prices might fall by a single percentage point brought out fear and loathing. This time, everything really is different. An assessment by Davy Stockbrokers that house prices could fall by as much as 20pc seems perfectly logical based on how the market is valuing developer company shares.
The differences with previous house price drops are stark. Many people who bought houses in the last few years did so with an 80pc to 85pc loan-to-value mortgage - not 100pc or 110pc.
Hundreds of thousands of people have seen the value of their homes climb in recent years, which has taken them out of negative equity. If they are not planning or hoping to move any time soon, a 20pc drop won't be such a big problem. The big negative from a house price fall is the impact it will have on future housing supply. It isn't so much bad news for homeowners, as those who are homeless, paying exorbitant rents or simply hoping to buy a home.
A 20pc fall will discourage developers from proceeding with building houses on sites they have. Closure of building sites will create cash crunches.
Development land prices could fall too, but aspirations of building tens of thousands of new houses per year might evaporate. And, of course, there is that massive problem of several hundred thousand people losing their jobs.
You can't get a mortgage or buy a house if you aren't working.
Read medical journals - not broker reports
Following the stock market right now sounds a lot like a depressing waste of time. It is usually a good indicator of corporate profitability, economic activity or at least sentiment. It is now a complete crap shoot. Having seen stock prices collapse, the latest twist came when they picked up a little on foot of the US Federal Reserve and ECB's promises to intervene with trillions of dollars/euro.
This might have presented an opportunity for day traders. But for anyone seriously thinking longer-term, they would be better off studying articles on the coronavirus in Imperial College or Harvard medical reviews.
Unless you are considering buying shares in a ventilator maker or perhaps a private hospital, you should probably sit it out. It is hard to see any stock market rally lasting more than just a couple of days - at most. The UK, US and large swathes of Europe are still possibly two months away from the peak of Covid-19 cases.
Unemployment in the US is likely to hit 20pc but could even go to 30pc - well into the territory of basic social order challenges.
Last year's earnings are history. Next year's earnings are a complete shot in the dark.
The only way to trade shares in this kind of environment is on the fly. They only have one way to go - and that is south.
Irish food sector will feel the pain
One of the myths of the economic crisis created by Covid-19 is that the Irish agriculture and food sector will be OK because people will still have to eat. This is over-simplistic and fails to take account of basic marketplace realities.
Take the beef sector. We produce three times the amount of beef that we consume in Ireland.
But with restaurants, hotels and bars shut, in Ireland, the UK and across Europe, beef sales will tank.
Beef prices have fallen sharply and this will be a huge blow to producers in an already challenging sector. Irish beef will remain in high demand at home, but not even as much as usual.
Think of all those Sunday carveries in hotels and restaurants that have for now evaporated.
For Irish food exports to the UK, sterling is a massive problem.
The pound fell to its lowest since 1985 last week. Food exported from Ireland to the UK is earning fewer euro for processors and firms. This is a huge challenge and isn't likely to improve soon.
Boris's economic problems could prove terminal
There is little good news on the horizon for the wider British economy, never mind Brexit. Boris Johnson has bungled his way through this crisis so far, having flip-flopped from herd immunity theories to total lockdown.
It is less than two weeks since Stereophonics played an indoor gig at Cardiff's Motorpoint Arena in front of several thousand fans. That is not to mention Cheltenham. Now, the UK is locking down. The British chancellor announced a £30bn (€33bn) support package for firms. The government is also subsidising 80pc of the salary of workers affected by Covid-19 up to a maximum of £45,000 per year.
Estimates suggest this will cost £1bn to the exchequer for every 1pc of the workforce who avail of it. If 20pc take it up, it will cost £20bn over three months, and £60bn over nine months.
The British government is on its own when it comes to monetary policy and interest rates. This means it has the advantage of taking its own actions. But it must go it alone. When it goes to borrow billions on the bond market, it cannot rely on eurozone liquidity measures. It can, of course, turn on the printing presses. The more money it creates to get out of this mess, the more sterling will fall in value farther down the road. The more sterling falls, the higher the prices consumers will have to pay for imported goods.
It is a recipe for real inflation in the not-too-distant future. The Government will also have to look at tax rises to pay for all this once the immediate crisis is over. None of this is good for Irish exporters.
In fact, the UK may end up seeking a bailout in a few years if its exchequer finances deteriorate, especially if it actually goes ahead with Brexit. No schadenfreude here for us. Ireland might not be far behind. It may be time to rely on the kindness of strangers once again. We entered the last crash with a debt of €40bn. We enter this one with debt of €200bn.
Ventilators new global currency
Just a couple of weeks ago, we all thought toilet roll would be the new Bitcoin. Now it seems ventilators are the new international super-currency. They are needed for those who develop severe respiratory difficulties dealing with the virus.
Germany and Ireland are among the bigger ventilator manufacturers. In Germany, they have their own firms. In Ireland, we have American firm Medtronic. The Germans have access to 30,000 ventilators and counting. In the UK, an element of panic set in when it emerged the health service had access to just 6,000. In recent weeks, that has grown to 8,000. The British estimate they will need 20,000 more.
In Ireland, we have 500, with a further 900 coming in the weeks ahead. The US has a number of manufacturers but with relatively small capacity. There simply will not be enough of these machines, especially in major cities.
Hospitals throughout the US have some 160,000 in total. New York, now the epicentre of the virus in the US, has 6,000 at most.
Various companies, from the aviation and motor sectors, are exploring ways to help make more in the UK and US.
Tesla founder Elon Musk has been in touch with Medtronic and says he has 1,200 ready to go.
Shares in one German manufacturer have risen by 50pc, while Medtronic is seeking to double its workforce in Galway. It is a huge corporate race to try to save lives in the months ahead.