The word “next” is deliberate.
Let’s start with a guess at the next economic/financial world, because in theory what it ‘says’ (if we can understand it) may be what millions of people do or will come to believe. But we cannot stop there, because we humans often confuse what we hope with what we think.
On one level, the markets suggest the worst may be quickly at hand, then behind us, and the future will be very good. Fixed income markets are still producing VERY little return. That says quite clearly that too much money is looking for ‘homes’ and that too few ‘homes’ are looking for money.
That has been amplified by the Treasury and the Federal Reserve which have both opened all their spigots for pouring more money into the system to ensure the whole system remains fluid and liquid as it adapts to the rapidly changing world.
The stock market is at all-time highs in the face of all-time uncertainty and change, which by itself is very unusual.
Stocks have been led by a few amazing companies like Amazon, Apple and Google which indeed have been positioned almost perfectly for our times. One need not open one’s door to go shopping for anything and everything from Amazon, EXCEPT to let the delivery persons bring it in, often the same day it is ordered.
Apple has dusted off its iPhone so that they seem to anticipate our every thought and move.
And, Google will help us find IT – whatever IT is? – if it exists, wherever it exists.
The prices of those companies’ stocks are hard to comprehend, but what they do is equally hard to grasp.
The rest of the marketable companies’ stocks are far less overvalued, but the market seems to say most of those companies still will have a good part to play in the coming world.
How is this possible? Easy.
The vaccine is here, and, in a few months, we can expect to see and hear that the pandemic is inching towards HERD immunity, when it will cease to grow and begin to recede.
The economy has been adapting and changing rapidly during the crisis and is likely to be more efficient and profitable overall thereafter as a result.
Some things will change a lot.
Business travel, for example, will plummet. Zoom and its competitors have revealed that WIFI meetings may be even more productive and effective than old-fashioned, face-to-face meetings.
We will also see a reduced need for office space as many enterprises have discovered they need less space for people who do not need to work in offices conventionally all the time.
Tens of millions of workers will gain billions of hours of productive time as a result of this shift by not commuting to work every day.
The market seems to like these prospects a lot.
We should pay attention and roll with the punches.
So, even though conventional thinking suggests that caution is a proper watchword, perhaps us oldies have to shake ourselves into a more progressive attitude.
And that leads to a hint about my next piece, which will deal with the political world that surrounds all this.
Biden looks more and more like the PERFECT human to be the world’s next democratic leader.