Taking a New View on Coronavirus

Taking a New View on Coronavirus

You know times are strange when you are hearing from everyone – from the government to your local grocer – on what to do about the coronavirus. Unless we can source some toilet paper for you (here is some fascinating commentary on that!), what else is there to say?

Believe it or not, we have a fresh perspective, which we think you will find helpful.

What if the COVID-19 pandemic is more than just an unmitigated disaster? What if it is also an important, if incredibly challenging opportunity?

How could this be? Consider these powerful words from the late Hans Rosling:

Think of the world as a premature baby in an incubator. The baby’s health status is extremely bad and her breathing, heart rate and other important signs are tracked constantly so that changes for better or worse can quickly be seen. After a week, she is getting a lot better. On all the main measures, she is improving, but she still has to stay in the incubator because her health is still critical. Does it make sense to say that the infant’s situation is improving? Yes. Absolutely. Does it make sense to say it is bad? Yes, absolutely. Does saying “things are improving” imply that everything is fine, and we should all relax and not worry? No, not at all. Is it helpful to have to choose between bad and improving? Definitely not. It is both. It is both bad and better. Better, and bad, at the same time. That is how we must think about the current state of the world.

That was a long quote, but we wanted to share it in full. Rosling was a physician, educator and World Health Organization advisor who specialized in international health. He wrote this passage in his book Factfulness – while he himself was dying of cancer. So, clearly, viewing the world as “better and bad” was of utmost importance to him.

As awful and enormous as the COVID-19 pandemic has quickly become, it seems highly likely we will ultimately prevail. And the existing global outpouring of evidence-based initiatives suggests we should be able to prevail much more quickly and successfully than had we simply surrendered to what might have seemed inevitable.

Consider this: As recently as last week, none of us had heard of “social distancing” as a medical prescription. Today, we are enacting it worldwide. It may not be obvious while we are in the thick of it, but right before our eyes, our amazing race is making miracles happen.

And we have only just begun. After we have prevailed, just think of all the other things we will have learned. Companies will have made major, if painful advances in their rapid mobilization procedures. Governments will have discovered ways to more efficiently implement life-saving civic policies. Healthcare facilities will have thoroughly field-tested their disaster protocols. Not only are these advances admirable in their own rights, they should also translate into continued market growth for those who have faith in the future of commercial enterprise.

No doubt, mistakes will be made; some will be bad ones. But – both bad and better – we will probably have learned far more than we will have lost. Society will be better prepared for a next global crisis. Markets will likely come out blinking, and then could well recover with the same speed at which they stumbled. (Consider this telling Dimensional Fund Advisors chart on historical market recoveries.) We will have discovered how quickly we can still come together in unimaginable ways to protect our collective future.

We could repeat, don’t panic, stay the course and wash your hands until we are all muttering damage-control missives in our sleep. But that may feel like cold comfort at this point. Instead, let’s focus on Rosling’s suggestion: Think of the state of the world and your current investment opportunities as both better and bad.

It is bad, in that the near future ranges from uncertain to pretty darn bleak. But it is also better. Focusing in on your investments, you have a plan in place to see your way through to the other side. You have more historical evidence than your forebears had on what to expect next. You have us by your side, to help you stick with and/or adjust your plans as needed.

Together, let’s focus on how to make the best of things. And, yes, wash your hands.

Shore Point Advisors

This post was prepared and first distributed by Wendy J. Cook.

Shore Point Advisors is registered as an investment adviser with the State of New Jersey. Shore Point Advisors only transacts business in states where it is properly registered, or is excluded or exempted from registration requirements. Past performance is not indicative of future returns. All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. There are no assurances that an investor’s portfolio will match or outperform any particular benchmark. Content was prepared by a third-party provider. All information is based on sources deemed reliable, but no warranty or guarantee is made as to its accuracy or completeness. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors on the date of publication and are subject to change.


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