Dear Clients and Friends of ZWM,
We just came off the best week in the markets since 1974, but it’s really, really hard to put ourselves in the mood for much celebration. The nation is still locked down in social distancing and the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths keeps rising. Most portfolios are down for the year, and unemployment is way, way up. Additionally, the U.S. economy may be about to experience the highest negative growth rate any of us have ever seen.
The burden of carrying the financial worries seems to never let up.
Sharp downturns with quick recoveries are not easy on the stomach, but we can usually get over them without too much trauma. But now we are entering the stage where the longer-term uncertainty will start to wear on you. Will the markets keep moving in step with the virus news? And if so, if another wave of the virus comes, then how far down do we go? And when?
Before we talk about the markets, let’s take a moment and realize we’re among the lucky ones. Millions of people have been laid off, many of whom were living paycheck to paycheck; and now, many are cut off from their health insurance at one the most dangerous times, health-wise, in modern history. Many won’t have the resources to pay their bills. Poverty may go from being devastating to deadly.
But even for those of us who are fortunate enough to have food, shelter and assets set aside for a rainy day, the isolation, the worry, the many unknowns, can take a toll on our energy and outlook.
Do we have any advice to offer at this difficult time? The honest answer is nobody knows how all this will play out in the short term, or what “short term” means in the current situation. It seems certain this pandemic will last at least another month, and it’s not hard to envision a second surge sometime thereafter, similar to the deadlier second surge that took so many lives in the 1918 pandemic. There is no easy way out of the grind of daily volatility, isolation and carrying the weight of worry about things over which we have no control.
Our best advice is to please stay strong, practice social distancing, but make lots of phone calls, send emails, try video conferencing with friends and family. Muster the willpower from deep inside, especially if there are others who depend on you for emotional or financial support. We are confident our society will make it through this pandemic, our economic system (the underpinning of the markets) is strong enough to withstand these shocks to its foundations, and most of us will ultimately weather the storm. Focus your energies on tending to the sick, mourning those who were claimed by the virus, and on protecting your family and yourself.
We can help lighten the load: our job is to worry over and monitor your financial situation. And know that we do not take this responsibility lightly.
This is a time when strength and courage and emotional maturity are incredibly valuable to our social order. We are all, every one of us, an important part of the daily struggle of people we care about—and let that be motivation as we all slog through this pandemic, one day at a time, together.
Let us offer you our best wishes and our hope—and most of all, our support through this difficult time.
All of us at ZWM,