Investment Outlook: First Quarter 2020 America Will Recover
The uncertainty of the corona-virus pandemic has cast a shadow over every aspect of our lives. We fear that the virus lurks in every corner, and will eventually infect every one of us. Fortunately, the media is educating us on credible ways to reduce our risks and keeping us informed with the latest developments from our healthcare industry. We are much better prepared now than we were in 1918 when the Spanish Flu infected one-third of the world’s population. World War I kept our national government occupied, leaving the influenza response up to local governments. An article titled What We Can Learn From the 20th Century’s Deadliest Pandemic by Johnathan D. Quick in the March 7th Wall Street Journal details the policies implemented in St. Louis which proved best at reducing the mortality rate. Their policies were very similar to today’s social distancing, quarantines, and bans on public gatherings. This contrasted with poor results in cities that did not alter their daily routine. Today, we have a lot more tools in our arsenal to fight COVID-19 and related complications, so the outlook is not nearly as dire.
The economic impact of shutting down large parts of the economy has created a financial crisis, which has added even more stress and uncertainty to this already unprecedented social climate. The origins of every financial crisis are always about good loans turning into bad loans. Today’s expected bad loans are caused by shutting down parts of our economy to contain the virus. This financial uncertainty makes people want to hoard cash, which causes the banking system to seize up, which leads to more and more bad loans. The Fed was created in 1913 to act as lender of last resort to halt this downward spiral. Fortunately, the Fed, along with support from Congress, has acted swiftly to flood the banking system with cash to calm the fears and to save real businesses that provide real jobs.
What’s very encouraging today is that our nation is finding its way through the difficult choices our leaders and we must make, to both control the spread of the virus and save our economy. We have seen our nation overcome great difficulties many times before when we have rallied the country to recover from natural disasters, terrorist attacks and wars. The greatest mobilization took place in World War II when we asked our auto plants to make B-24 Liberators and Sherman tanks.
Sometime in the next few weeks or months, the new virus cases will level off, and America will begin another chapter of growth and prosperity.