It isn’t useful to think about how much you have lost in this market. What is important is to understand where you go from here. So quit talking about where do you go from there. Where you go from here means looking at things with fresh eyes. By looking at where you go from here, you have a better chance of getting back to there.
We are dealing with a pandemic that is going to physically affect a significant number of people. There are going to be those who won’t survive this. Social distancing and quarantines have forced the closure of many businesses and will lead to many not reopening. Unemployment is going to reach uncomfortable levels. There are many models outlining what could happen, although models are not maps. We don’t really know how much better or worse things will be.
Global markets have fallen significantly from their highs. Interest rates have dropped to levels that I have not seen in my nearly 45-year career. Corporate earnings in the near-term are going to be dramatically reduced.
The Federal Reserve has used measures last seen in 2008, but much more quickly. The government is providing stimulus that would make John Maynard Keynes proud. Many state governments have taken decisive action to try to flatten the curve of the virus, if only to buy time.
Given the uncertainty of the impacts of the virus coupled with the massive fiscal and monetary support, what do you do? Unless you need the money shortly, one thing you can do is quit worrying about how low things can go. We don’t know. The stimulus is likely to cause markets to rebound not when the virus gets better, but when it gets less worse. That is a critical distinction.
Stock markets recover before the economy does. In 2009, we were losing hundreds of thousands of jobs a month, and the market was up over 26%. While it was not higher than it had been in October 2007, had you been invested, you would have been both surprised and happy for the rally. If you were in a panic because of the money you lost up to that point, you may have missed signals and therefore the subsequent rebound. That past is what it was. Like a river that is never the same, you don’t recapture past losses, but you can capture new gains. Look at the market where it stands now and make your decisions about how to invest.
If you continue to focus on where you go from there, you will miss out on opportunities involving where we go from here.
Spend your life wisely.
Ross Levin is the chief executive and founder of Accredited Investors Wealth Management in Edina.