Intellectually, you know that what’s happening will soon pass. Emotionally, you’re anxious and maybe even downright afraid. Me too. The stock market is being pummeled. As I write this, the market is back to where it was at its very lowest point in 2018, which was a steep and fast 20% drop from its peak and a far cry from where we were just weeks ago. This is different. It’s all different.
As the world scrambles to figure out how to contain a new virus, we’re also seeing our first social media-driven panic. The images of empty shelves at stores where toilet paper once sat, and Facebook debates about why this is or isn’t the ‘regular flu’ are enough to drive even the most pragmatic among us a bit crazy. Reason is battling our most primitive fight-or-flight hard-wiring. We vacillate between the intellectual being we think we are and the primitive beast we feel we are. It’s exhausting. Add money to this equation and we’re all very, very uncomfortable right now.
I can remind you of big market declines in 2018, 2008, 2001, 2000, 1992, 1987, and on and on but that’s not what you need. Sure, those crises came and went, and people were able to retire and remain retired, but that’s not very interesting either. Yes, swine flu, bird flu, H1N1, Brexit, Enron, WorldCom, dot com, September 11th, and Desert Storm were all terrible things that many retirees endured while remaining retired, but that’s not important now. This feels different, very different. And it is.
With all of that in mind, I don’t know how this plays out. It’s different. I suspect that people are still working and buying food and gasoline and houses and alcohol and dessert after dinner. Sure, that cruise may not happen right now, and neither will that conference, but we all want to get back to some sense of normalcy soon. We ALL want this. Given this, if I were a betting man, I’d bet against laziness, apathy, hopelessness, and failure. Instead, I’d commit to patience, hard work, hope, and success. I’d continue to believe in the resiliency of people and invest in the markets that represent our collective desire for a brighter future.
This is different. It’s all different. But are we all that different than we were when we persevered the last crisis? Are we unable to see this through just like we did before? Intellectually, you and I know this will pass. I look forward to the moment when we emotionally feel the same, when we’re done panicking and ready to continue dreaming and prospering. It won’t be long; it won’t be long at all.
All the best,
Adam Cufr, RICP®