We humans are an impatient bunch. We demand instant gratification for just about everything that we do. Instant coffee, instant noodles, instant quick frozen, etc …
Why is that?
Perhaps it is because we have been conditioned to equate speed with efficiency. So, when we order a meal online, we expect a delivery driver to be knocking on our doors just moments later. It is an unrealistic expectation.
The same goes with a vaccine for COVID-19. I wonder how long it will be before the Trump administration starts to blame pharmaceutical companies for taking too long to develop a serum to prevent the spread of the deadly pathogen….
…. But the danger with rushing drug development is that we could end up in a worse place than we are now. The vaccine might not work properly or, more worryingly, it might even put people’s lives at risk.
It is understandable why we want a vaccine quickly. It is also understandable why economies need to reopen. But an uninformed approach to reopening could create intractable problems for the global economy.
It would be tantamount to drinking water from a poisoned well to quench an immediate thirst….
…. And that is why the comments from US Treasury Secretary, Steve Mnuchin, are not only ill-judged but border on ignorance.
He said: “We can’t shut down the economy again”. He added: “You’re going to create more damage, and not just economic damage, but there are other areas.”
I wonder what he could mean by “other areas”?
Could it possibly be more social unrest that we are witnessing in the US? The kind of unrest that could make the US president and his entourage very uncomfortable.
Unfortunately, avoiding a second shutdown is not something that the Treasury Secretary can decide. It will be determined by the people of America who will choose for themselves whether it is safe to venture out….
…. And by the look of things, a continued rise in coronavirus cases coupled with an increase in hospital admissions would suggest that America has opened its economy too early.
We investors need to be patient, too. This pandemic is not going to disappear tomorrow. It could be a long drawn out process characterised of moments of joy punctuated by periods of disappointment.
But if we have built a portfolio of good shares, it should outperform a portfolio of bonds or money in the bank, which really isn’t that difficult right now.
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Disclosure: David Kuo does not own any of the shares mentioned.