How has the Covid-19 Crisis affected you?
Some folks are working harder than ever, some are hardly working, and most of us are adjusting to Zoom meetings, Zoom-bombers, Zoom-fatigue, and a less personal and more virtual existence. At home, the Tengdin family had three college students back for the past few months, and internet bandwidth is now a precious resource.
Our pets are delighted. More walks, more company, more treats. Our house cat – which has often been my blogging buddy – now parks herself on a portion of my desk, rolls over, and “suggests” I pet her. It’s hard to resist. Our dog starts to whine at the door in the late afternoon, noting that she’s looking forward to our walk.
The first few weeks were unique: a “shutdown” that created shortages in hand sanitizer, Kleenex, flour, yeast, and other staples; a massive market selloff that generated an equally massive fiscal and monetary response; daily headlines about new antiviral initiatives; and an economic slump that is all-the-more concerning because it has been so sudden. If I never see the word “unprecedented” again, I’ll still say I’ve seen it too many times.
We’re all feeling cabin fever, and more than ready for some kind of change. But the change won’t be back to normal. It will be back to some sort of wilderness ordeal, a time of new challenges and different life habits: masks, distancing, driving more, flying less. All with the promise of normal life postponed until after a vaccine delivers herd-immunity.
Life gives us all “transition times,” when we’re caught between one reality and another. College is, for many, a transition between childhood and adulthood. Engagement is the transition between single life and married life. Pregnancy is a transition between not having a child and having a child. What’s common to all these examples is they require preparation and planning: planning to get a job; planning a wedding; planning for a new baby. What strikes me about today is everyone is so intent on getting to the finish line, but few are planning for what comes next.
And what comes after? More online activity. Streaming video was growing, now it’s vital. Zoom and GoToMeeting and Google Meeting and other ways to save gas and travel time, more podcasts and YouTube and Vimeo, fewer meet-and-greets and facetime. We don’t need offices; we do need home offices. But we also need – crave, really – the casual cup of coffee, the beer after work, the visit to our favoring restaurant or watering hole or sports event or just a chance to get together with friends and family without worrying.
One hundred years ago, the world went through an even-more disruptive pandemic which followed hard on a horrific war, the “Great War.” The demand-destruction of that pandemic and post-war period was initially a recession, followed by a technologically led boom. Transportation, electricity, public health, and medicine all saw revolutionary progress – progress that resulted in the “Roaring ‘20s.” Let’s hope improvements in medicine, communications, and in retailing will have a similar, beneficial effects when this is past.
Douglas Tengdin, CFA
World Market Advisors