Over the past few weeks, news of the spread of COVID-19 has dominated media channels. It’s in your news feed, it’s in your inbox, and everyone around you is likely talking about it. However, even more newsworthy than the virus itself is what has happened in reaction to it. The stock market has fallen; entire countries are on lockdown, tours and sporting events cancelled, and millions of children are not in school. In the US, panic over rising case counts had triggered a rush on stores and personal stockpiling; to the extent toilet paper shelves are empty.
John Maxwell, in his book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, opens his chapter on the Law of Navigation by discussing the importance of controlling your direction rather than being controlled by it. Maxwell said, “Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a Leader to chart the course.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed into bear market territory on March 11—defined as a decline of at least 20% from its recent peak. Many airline companies and energy stocks surpassed this threshold with even steeper drops, as equity prices were impacted by accelerating uncertainty about COVID-19 and the outbreak of an oil-price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia.
Still one of my favorite TV shows, ABC’s Whose Line Is It Anyway? host Drew Carey would introduce each show with some variation of the following: “Good evening, and welcome to Whose Line Is It Anyway? The show where everything is made up and the points don't matter! That's right, the points are just like the nutritional facts on a Happy Meal.”
Each show had a different introduction, typically with Carey throwing insults or shade at his fellow cast members, such as: “That's right the points are just like tasteful shoes to Ryan Stiles.” There’s actually an entire thread on Reddit listing all of Carey’s one-liners. And just like Whose Line, you could also say the Dow Jones Industrial Average (commonly referred to as “the Dow”) is another place where the points don’t really matter.
China reported an uptick in new cases of coronavirus known as “Wuhan flu,” “Wuhan coronavirus,” or nCoV on Friday, although the pace of increase was at its slowest since January, a downward trend that the World Health Organization (WHO) called encouraging. Although the WHO is working with Chinese officials and governments worldwide to contain nCoV, infections have been reported in 25 other countries. The epidemic is set to be discussed at a meeting of finance leaders from the Group of 20 major economies this weekend in Riyadh according to Reuters.
Recently, Natixis Investment Mangers published a market outlook entitled “Coronavirus and Global Markets: What Investors Should Know” which we thought would be of interest. A summary of the conclusions is provided below: