MSNBC's Velshi discusses covering kitchen table issues during pandemic

MSNBC's Velshi discusses covering kitchen table issues during pandemic
© Greg Nash

MSNBC anchor Ali Velshi says part of his goal in covering the kitchen table concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic is educating viewers on how to navigate what he calls "the bridge to the future" following the crisis.

The veteran anchor hosted a virtual town hall, "Velshi: The COVID-19 Economy," on MSNBC on Saturday morning that included "Shark Tank" star Kevin O'Leary, financial advisor and former CNBC host Suze Orman, and supermarket chain CEO Stew Leonard.

Velshi said in an interview with The Hill that while the U.S. will eventually recover from the pandemic, part of his objective in reporting and educating on the economic side of the crisis is answering the questions viewers have about how the pandemic will impact them.

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"We'll get to the other side eventually. We always do after recessions and after difficult times," he explained.

"We know that we're in an emergency right now ... but there is this space between emergency and the other side that there are a lot of households and small businesses and workers who have no idea what it looks like. That might be two years. The last recession, for some people, was five years before a recovery came on. So what does the bridge look like from here to there?"

"For most individuals, cash flow is the single biggest issue," he added later. "So how do you preserve your capital? What decisions should you be making? How bad should you be planning for this to get? How do you reinvent your own life economically and how do you reinvent your business?"

Velshi noted that many are wondering what the coming months will look like for individuals and small businesses across the country, and that is part of his focus in his coverage.

Figures released Friday showed that the U.S. lost 20.5 million jobs in April amid the coronavirus pandemic, which has devastated the economy the past two months.

The surge wiped out a decade of job gains, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as the unemployment rate spiked to 14.7 percent.

Despite the economic carnage, the stock market has performed well in recent weeks, with the Dow Jones having its best month in April since 1974, the S&P 500 up more than 30 percent from its virus low in March and The Nasdaq Composite up more than 35 percent while up 1.6 percent overall in 2020.

"I'm absolutely fascinated by the market response. I've been in this business for a long time, up until 15 years ago, anybody could call me and ask me what was going on the market, and I could probably figure it out based on fundamentals. We can't anymore. This is algorhythms. This is not about understanding companies. This is about interest rates being zero. There being no other place for your money and the world being awash in funds available on investments," Velshi said.

"Nobody wants to miss out on the return," he continued. "This weird fear of missing out seems to be driving this market.

Velshi said it seems that "the stock market is no longer a barometer of what really happens in the economy.

"There's no logical explanation for the steepness of the sell-off. And there's no logical explanation for the velocity of the comeback," he said.

During the MSNBC town hall on Saturday, O'Leary explained when taking a viewer's question around investing that attempting to "time to market" when investing or selling off is an impossible task.

"I've learned as an investor of almost 40 years it is impossible to do," the entrepreneur said. "I always tell people you have to stay the course. You consistently put aside, in my strategy for everybody young and old ... is to put aside 10 percent of your income, and you put it in the market every two weeks when you get paid. My mother taught me that."

"At the end of the day, it's investing over a long period of time. The markets generally over the past 100-plus years, have given anywhere from 6 and 8 percent a year even though there's a tremendous amount of volatility in it."

Velshi, a former CNN anchor and chief business correspondent, moved to weekends in January 2020 to host a two-hour program on Saturday and Sunday mornings.