Message To CoBank Customers From President & CEO Tom Halverson
DENVER (March 20, 2020) — To our valued customers and business partners:
Over the past several weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly evolved from a global public health crisis to likely becoming a global recession as well. Actions by government authorities to stem the spread of the disease have shut down entire sectors of the economy, and slowed down virtually everything else. It is not an overstatement to say this may become the single largest, and most rapid, shock to the global economy since the onset of World War II.
Here in the U.S., we know already that the impacts to GDP and employment will be profound. Two days ago, JP Morgan issued a revised growth forecast for the U.S. predicting the economy will shrink at an annualized rate of negative 4% in the first quarter and negative 14% in the second quarter before beginning to rebound in the latter half of the year. If those projections are even close to accurate, it means our nation’s economy has moved from a position of robust good health to a state of recession almost overnight.
Amidst the current tremendous level of uncertainty for businesses, we do have absolute clarity in the financial services sector about what our role is as we move through the next several months. As an industry, banks must work to ensure that money continues to flow through the economy and to avoid a credit and liquidity crunch that would be potentially devastating to otherwise sound and profitable sectors and companies. As we speak, the Federal Reserve is aggressively deploying monetary tools to enable banks to play that vital role. The banking sector and the Farm Credit System, of which we are a member, is well positioned to respond given that both have built up strong financial positions over the past decade. Having worked in financial services all over the world for my entire career, and having seen the financial services sector operate in a variety of business cycles and circumstances, I am quite confident that it will perform well and be there to support the rest of the economy.
At CoBank, we understand how much our customers rely on us for credit and other services regardless of conditions in the marketplace. Dependability is a pillar of our value proposition and one we take very seriously, from our board of directors to the executive team to every associate at our bank. We have mobilized every resource within the organization to deal with this crisis and ensure our ability to deliver services and support customers. We have launched enterprise-wide business continuity plans, and are fortunate to be able to operate seamlessly as long as the COVID-19 crisis lasts.
On behalf of our board and executive team, I extend heartfelt good wishes to all of our customers as you work through this challenging period. We stand ready to help as needed.
President and Chief Executive Officer