Broker Check

Coping with Corona

April 27, 2020

There is a growing fatigue that I sense in our public and private discussion around the COVID pandemic. Do you feel it? The collective "treatment" imposed from the top, in the form of mandated social isolation and paralysis of economic livelihoods, has been largely effective against the virus. We are indeed witnessing a downward trend in the incidence of infections and hospitalization rates[1]. However, the side effects of the treatment are increasing exponentially.

There is a global and local surge in domestic violence [2] with an especially devastating expectation of a spike in child abuse[3][4]. The uncertainty and loss of control that people feel takes the form of anxiety, depression, and anger. In an attempt to relieve the pressure, we are beginning to witness people increasingly assert individual control, often defying local public mandates. This was evident during this past weekend in Southern California and elsewhere as crowds flocked to the beaches[5].

Political leaders are feeling the pressure and many are discussing and implementing strategies to ease up on the treatment. While no one wants a resurgence of disease, there is an evolution to find an optimal balance between the risk of infectious disease on the one hand, and the risk of psychosocial disruption on the other.

Reports published from around the globe reflecting economic activity in the first quarter of the year look backwards at what was, and not what is, or what will be. So too are the earnings reports on Wall Street, and the numbers on our account statements. While there is no lack of smart financial professionals making predictions about the future of the economy and markets, their forecasts are notoriously unreliable as a basis for acting on your personal portfolio[6].

"The function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable." John Kenneth Galbraith, Economist

There are so many uncertainties that effect our lives in a manner over which we have absolutely no control. It’s so much healthier and more productive to concentrate on the things that we can control.

How are you coping? What have you had the courage to try for the first time? What new priorities will you bring out of your experiences? Hit "reply" and let me know.

Eventually, we'll recover from the pandemic. It's not clear yet what that will look like, and we'll likely see more hard days before we get there. Businesses will reopen, people will go back to work, the recession will pass, and the country will rebuild.

We will heal. And some marks will remain as a reminder of our experience, our growth, and our resilience.

Be well,

Daniel Ruben, MD, MPH, MBA