Coronavirus Has Mixed Impact on Michigan’s Economy

The stock market has been in a free fall in recent weeks amid fears of COVID-19, but there have been relatively few economic implications in Michigan so far.

Residents around the state are starting to see the financial effects of COVID-19 at the gas pump.

Talks to cut back on oil production amid global travel restriction fell apart over the weekend. As a result, oil producers in the Middle East have flexed their muscle by ramping up production — creating a surplus and driving prices down.

Coronavirus in Michigan: Key Information

Latest developments: Two confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been identified in Michigan.

What you should do: 

  • Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or upper sleeve when coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home if you are sick and contact your healthcare provider.

Sam Huszczo is a financial advisory and founder of SGH Wealth Management. He tells WDET’s Alex McLenon that while Wall Street is preparing for the worst case scenario, it could be a while before any severe economic impacts are felt in Michigan.

Click on the player above to hear the interview with SGH Wealth Management’s Sam Huszczo, and read excerpts, edited for length and clarity, below.

Alex McLenon, 101.9 WDET:  What are we seeing happen with the stock market and how does it relate to coronavirus?

Sam Huszczo, SGH Wealth Management: Investors are trying to figure out what could be the high end implications of supply chains, travel being reduced, and any other ancillary spill off of what could be the worst case scenario of that. When items are at its most uncertain point is usually when we can allow our mind to get into the worst case scenario of things.

So what’s actually happening is us considering what those worst case scenarios are. But much is still far too uncertain to make any real claims as to make any claims as to how bug the impact of this could be. But certainly emotions have set in, and that’s the reasons why we’ve seen the runoffs that we’ve seen.

Over the weekend one of the newest developments was what’s going on with Moscow and OPEC. Can you explain what’s happening there?

Oil has gotten crushed this year outside of even what’s happening in negotiations and things of that nature. OPEC I’d say is losing some of its power, just in that the United States is a big oil player now as well too. So I wouldn’t be surprised if other regions are testing OPEC’s metal in a time like this.

But honestly, the biggest item to keep this economy going forward in our opinion is just consumption. One thing that does give us confidence is that unemployment is super low. So as long as everybody still has jobs and Americans act American and they spend a big portion of their paychecks – consumptions alone could propel this economy forward.

Could that spending be hindered by fears of coronavirus?

Yeah, I mean it is interesting to that degree. The biggest consumer sentiment survey is just the University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey, which we read religiously. Two weeks ago only 8% of respondents mentioned the coronavirus as an issue. The most recent one last Friday, that jumped up to 20% of respondents mentioning the coronavirus.

So certainly it’s a lot more in our forefront and maybe even higher at the end of this week as well. But to put that into context, consumer sentiment is 7.7% higher than it was one year ago today. How that couples with the panic of coronavirus? It’s a hard thing to decouple but I would say that people are a little bit more confident than they were a year ago at the very least.

How could people expect to see the impact of what’s going on with the stock market? Be it a fear reaction or over reactions or what not, how could it fall back down to the local level and what are some ways that people might notice it?

The way that coronavirus reacts in terms of number of cases and fatality levels, those numbers need to be watched very closely over the next 9 to 12 weeks. But in terms of Detroit local, I mean, I’m a long time Detroiter. I wish we had more of a tourism area in the Detroit region at least, but tourism is going to be down dramatically.

Everything else is gonna have to do with supply chains. Obviously being a part of the automakers, anyone involved with sourcing from China or anything like that, that could get a lot more difficult. But, if this does last a long time and some of that manufacturing shifts to making items in the United States again, the net result for us as citizens would be prices going up.

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  • Alex McLenon
    Alex McLenon is a Reporter with 101.9 WDET. McLenon is a graduate of Wayne State University, where he studied Media Arts & Production and Broadcast Journalism.