A virus has hit the world and halted the economy.
As I write these lines on March 18th, the stock market is down more than 30% from its highs. Some people bought the market at the top and are now 30% poorer.
What’s more: The virus will be blamed for the financial meltdown. Governments are now stepping in and bailing out big corporations and giving loans to smaller ones. But where is this money coming from? It’s printed. Will it ever be paid back? What happens to savers? Even bonds and gold are dropping now. People don’t know why. Some say bonds go down because governments are more indebted than ever, and precious metals are dropping short-term because investors sell paper gold and everything liquid to meet “margin calls.” These are literally phone calls that traders get from brokers when financial instruments bought with borrowed money went down so much that the collateral is worth less than the cash borrowed against it. Then, the position either gets sold or the traders need to pour more cash in. The same happens, by the way, to your house, if you bought it with a loan and the value drops too much. Your bank calls
you to either increase interest payments to compensate for the increased risk or asks you to pour more money in. (That is why some prefer to rent and not to buy.
People say companies and individuals that are overleveraged, borrowed too much or have too much in investments might suffer the most. Small or one-person firms with solid savings will suffer the least. In good times small fish have small revenues, but also suffer less in times of panic and crises.
Some say you can’t prepare for every possible scenario. While it is indeed hard to plan for some scenarios like a meteorite hitting Earth, you can limit your downside in everything by staying small. That means not spending much. Many don’t want that because it also limits your upside. You might never become extremely wealthy if you don’t invest a lot, but you also won’t burn in a hell of debt.
When you’re reading this, I hope the world still exists and that it is clearer how to solve the problems we have. The graph no one should ever forget is this of the most recent jobless claims in the US (see image below) . I hope that this proves that the saying “past performance isn’t an indicator of future performance” is to be taken seriously.
Pessimists say central banks and politicians will manage to save real estate and stocks so the price of these assets will go up and then there is a total collapse. “Optimists” say it will be like Japan for the last 20 years: A mere decades-long stagnation. And these are pre-Covid-19 predictions. The future is by definition uncertain. It is up to you to do the research and find out for yourself what fits you. In the end these are your savings. They will determine if you can allow yourself time to job hunt for a month or a year. They will determine if you can sleep calmly at night.