First, please know that even though I have posted more frequently of late it is not my plan to write every day. I’m sure your inbox has plenty to require your attention. But, I do want to answer some questions here.
Question: Should we be “all in” now, as some have suggested?
Answer: Only if you desire to speculate. Investors, as opposed to speculators always hold a diversified portfolio to manage downside risk. We are investors. We don’t hit home runs, but we don’t strike out. We live to invest another day. There is no guarantee that stocks will be worth more six months from now than they are today.
Question: Given that the infection trajectory curve may be flattening somewhat can life go back to normal now?
The short answer: No.
Question: When will life go back to normal?
Obviously, for many people life will not go back to normal. Many have died. Many will die. Many have lost loved ones. Many have lost jobs. Some jobs won’t return. Some new jobs will be created.
There are reasons for optimism.
In spite of setbacks humankind continues to prosper. Our understanding of what is true and good continues to increase. Our use of this knowledge may produce an effective treatment for the virus that presently wounds us, and a vaccine to prevent future infections. Regular readers of this blog know that I believe that the speed of change/improvement is increasing. It was not until the mid to late 1800s that physicians in western Europe began to understand and accept the germ theory of disease. Viruses were initially discovered in the 1890s, and a polio vaccine was not developed until the 1950s. Today biotech companies are expecting to have Covid-19 vaccines available within months.
There are reasons for pessimism.
Some models of the pandemic’s trajectory, including the University of Washington IHME model have been revised to project a lowering of the curve. This is good and I hope it proves true. The problem is that the improvement assumes that social distancing, including the closing of schools and businesses will continue until August. Otherwise, the curve could “bubble up”. Assuming that we choose to continue social distancing as the model requires the effect on businesses, profits and employment will likely suffer. (I’m a master of understatement.) A two trillion dollar rescue package may not be enough.
Question: How has the pandemic affected Financial Planning Associates, Inc.?
Quite a number of years ago we concluded that adopting and using good, new technologies would allow us to provide excellent services to our clients without the need for large office spaces or layers of employees. So, for the past several years we have met with many of our clients virtually using a convenient, secure application now called Microsoft Teams. We employ powerful computer systems and very fast internet connections. We use the best available anti-malware protection. Our email communications are encrypted by Microsoft’s business services. The bottom line is that for us, fortunately not much has changed.
My family is maintaining proper social distancing. We order supplies to be delivered to our home and on occasion we take advantage of curbside food services. But when it becomes necessary that I go to the store I will be taking proper precautions.
Be safe. Protect your health.