So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.
Franklin D. Roosevelt (Inaugural address March 4, 1933 during the depth of the Great Depression)
The spreading coronavirus has led to a panic across our society. Schools are closed, supermarkets overrun with shoppers and the financial markets have sold off. Leadership has also been weak as countries have blamed each other rather than working in a coordinated fashion to understand the extent of infection through testing. Under the surface however, our medical professionals are working extremely hard on containment, treatment methods and eventual vaccines for the disease.
Regarding your investments, we recommend that clients stay the course by holding their securities. Your portfolios contain common stocks of companies that will be able to survive this crisis. Balanced accounts contain Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) that hold bonds that will be able to make their interest payments. We believe the markets are too volatile to trade at this time and any prices received from selling are too low. Our financial system depends on a degree of certainty that economic activity will continue and trust that people will both spend money and be able to pay their bills. These elements are in question right now but were in full force pre-pandemic with historically low unemployment and steady GDP growth. Once the world begins to better understand the virus, societies will return to normalcy. People will gauge the true risks to their health and have enough confidence to attend a conference, sporting event or party. Our leaders will eventually coalesce on a plan to limit the spread of the disease and unleash human creativity to cure this epidemic. This process may take time since the shock and fear have been so extreme. Once the market perceives that we are returning to life’s normal patterns, security prices will stabilize and recover.