To my friends, partners, clients, and fellow readers,
Throughout the entire world, these past few months have been surreal for us all. Indiscriminately, every country, economy, business sector, and demographic has been deeply impacted. With no precedence, we sit and observe in our homes.
In following the rules and supporting our front-line workers, we are building a stronger sense of community and appreciation for what and who we have in our lives. People seem more connected now than ever before, more willing to help, and are hyper-focused on moving forward from these trying times.
We all are facing the same unknowns and uncertainties each day that we wake up. But over cracks and potholes, through the seemingly impossible, our countries are moving ahead because the best way out is through. Now is our time to be grateful, to lead by example, to be optimistic, to take action, to support your family and friends, to support your team, and to work even harder and smarter to solve these huge problems.
I would like to take considerable time to assess where we currently are, but also to build optimism for all of our futures.
I challenge you to think back to the last time you were in a traffic jam. It’s probably been quite some time due to the social distancing rules and staying at home but bear with me here. Do you remember how you felt?
Your GPS on your iPhone suggested that there was an accident ahead, but you couldn’t see it to confirm. Frustration built as you would be late for your meeting. As you inched ahead, frustration likely turned towards gratitude and concern after some time. Realistically, this could have been “me” … “my family” … or “my friends.” You hoped that everyone was going to be okay and not badly hurt.
Emergency workers arrived to do their jobs per usual. The slow down then gave way to an open road after some time. You put your foot on the gas and restarted your day from there. You were blessed to have another day. Another opportunity. You continued onwards to make up the lost time.
“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.” — Robert Frost
The data we’ve been receiving has been shocking. And much of the data are lagging indicators. In the U.S., 6,600,000+ people have filed for unemployment benefits the week ending April 3rd. Over the past 50 years, the average weekly claims have been just 350,000. Another 5,000,000+ have filed for unemployment as the data and NYT reports this week, bringing the total in the past four weeks to 22,034,000 unemployed, which wiped out a decade-plus of employment and job gains in mere weeks.
Hundreds of countries now have travel restrictions. Confusion among experts and professionals exists. Bank of America estimates that Q2 GDP will fall by -12%. Morgan Stanley estimates by -30%. The WSJ predicts -25%. The March unemployment rate was 3.8%. The latest WSJ survey predicts 13% by June so we shall see.
Against February, economists believe a total of 14,400,000+ million jobs will be lost through May. In March 2019, the WSJ study showed a 25% chance of a recession; their reading for last week grew to 96% so let’s just act as if we are already and, deep, in the middle of one. Despite equity markets showing signs of life with a deceleration in Covid-19 cases, the S&P 500 is still down -17% YTD and down -27% from 2/19 highs. The FTSE100 is down -24% YTD.
The Federal Funds rate is now 0.00–0.25%, the lowest level ever recorded (along with 2008). While rates for banks and companies to borrow money will remain at historic lows, individuals may face tighter lending requirements. And to be honest, no one knows what to expect going forward.
The Federal Reserve will also now be able to purchase both corporate investment-grade and high-yield bonds. These measures have never been taken before and are unprecedented along with the $2.2 trillion in support/relief dollars that will soon be circulating throughout our economy. The Fed also stands ready to buy or support state and local issuers in the municipal bond market when the needs arise. The Fed is all-in on support and stabilization, which is positive to see for a change.
The majority of these measures are without precedence. The Fed is posing to build confidence in America’s workers and businesses.
There are a few more observations I would like to make. We are all going through this together, and it’s all very stop and go. What I mean by that is let’s think about these points in time as dynamic as opposed to linear. History has a tendency of repeating itself, which is why we leverage the past to shape our future. What do you believe is the biggest lesson this time is teaching all of us?
This taught us, as students, teachers, salespeople, professionals, adults, and, importantly, human beings to diversify our income. We should not solely depend on one source of income in today’s economy. We need to expand business and scale to capture multiple revenue streams. We learned that while we had no control over the big banks (some of which weren’t too big to fail), we did have control over our response. More than ever (now too), we need to make ourselves recession-proof.
This taught us that hurricanes don’t care which path or location we’re in. Natural disasters happen frequently which is why diversification of location is so important. Moreso now than ever before, individuals don’t want to be tied down to one single location. We want the ability to move, travel, and not be restricted. Density and over-concentration do hold great risks. More than ever, we need to make ourselves disaster-proof.
2020 SARS-CoV-2 (Coronavirus Disease 2019 and Covid-19)
This is teaching us that illness, bioterrorism, and other healthcare crises can be the ultimate socio/economical disruptors that are world was not prepared for. These viruses are often unique, untested, and invisible to the human eye. Right now, alongside all industries and businesses, we are working to become better prepared and “illness” proof. Once again teaching us all that our health and wellness should not be taken for granted, in addition to more lessons. For more information, please visit the CDC’s website.
We are all making decisions very quickly. Mistakes will be made. Mistakes, corrected, result in growth. We must fail and then learn from our mistakes. However, there will be great successes too. We will brainstorm and collaborate with the smartest individuals in hopes of supporting everyone, clients included.
We will find unique ways to solve problems and we will champion a model of value-added services, internet-based services, and free services; those who do not likely won’t make it during this time. We will become even more kind and understanding of our clients’ needs during these days inside. We must be more patient and supportive of those around us. Take pride in knowing that everything is dynamic and moving very fast right now. Additionally, help others right now because you cannot be both helpful and helpless at the same time. It’s one or the other and coming from a place of service and care is essential today.
Continue to battle and keep fighting until this passes. No one has a crystal ball and we don’t know when that time will be. But really, what’s the alternative?
Our country, our globe, and our people are no strangers to adversity. More so now than ever, we must leverage our past successes to serve others today. These are uncharted waters, and the tides will come both in and out as they always do. People are demanding the best of us and we must perform and appreciate these uncertainties as well.
Throughout time, human interaction has been irreplaceable. That’s not going away or out of business right now. The next decade will be defined by “we,” not “you,” “me,” “I,” or “it.”
What we do today, together with gratitude, service, and compassion for one another will determine our outcome. I am confident that if we lead with energy, effort, empathy, love, and passion for what we do, we will make our mark for years to come. What chapter of your life’s story are you writing right now?
My Very Best,
Donovan E. Vogel