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A Personal Message About The Markets & Covid-19

by | Mar 19, 2020 | News/Team Announcements | 0 comments

These are certainly challenging times. We have our personal savings and the health of ourselves and our loved ones to be worried about. I happen to be one of those Canadians awaiting a repatriation flight from being out of the country, so I have a fair amount of time for research and reflection. The last few days (and hours) I have received some helpful information on the virus, its local and global impact and the impact on your savings. I pass this on to you, as on the whole I view these facts and advice as very helpful and reassuring. I know this and the other messages we are sending is a lot of information, but clients tell me it is appreciated at a time like this.

1. “Insiders” or CEO’s and Executives from the very companies you invest are buying their company shares in numbers not seen since November 2008 and March 2009. Considering you invest alongside these executives in their companies, there is no better indication of their level of confidence in their share prices being fairly discounted than this. (Dixon Mitchell Newsletter, March 19, 2020)

2. You likely know tax filing can be delayed until June 1st and any money owing to Sept 1, 2020. Additionally, the RRIF and LIF payment minimums can be decreased by 25%. This will help those taking forced withdrawals to minimize forced asset sales. If you are a RRIF client you will get a personalized detailed explanation and recommendation. (Finance Minister Morneau announcement yesterday)

4. I have attached notes from a Goldman Sachs Conference Call March 15th that came from a high school friend on the call. The news starts out looking bleak, however, it is realistic and ends with the conclusion that the market impact will be much more short-lived than 2008.

Date: March 15, 2020 at 9:42:49 AM EDT

Subject: GS Call

Conclusions of Goldman Sachs Investee call where 1,500 companies dialed in.

The key economic takeaways were:

50% of Americans will contract the virus (150m people) as it’s very communicable. This is on par with the common cold (Rhinovirus) of which there are about 200 strains and which the majority of Americans will get 2-4 per year.

70% of Germany will contract it (58M people). This is the next most relevant industrial economy to be affected.

Peak-virus is expected over the next eight weeks, declining thereafter.

The virus appears to be concentrated in a band between 30-50 degrees north latitude, meaning that like the common cold and flu, it prefers cold weather. The coming summer in the northern hemisphere should help. This is to say that the virus is likely seasonal.

Of those impacted 80% will be early-stage, 15% mid-stage and 5% critical-stage. Early-stage symptoms are like the common cold and mid-stage symptoms are like the flu; these are stay at home for two weeks and rest. 5% will be critical and highly weighted towards the elderly.

Mortality rate on average of up to 2%, heavily weight towards the elderly and immunocompromised; meaning up to 3M people (150M*.02). In the US about 3M/yr die mostly due to old age and disease, those two being highly correlated (as a percent very few from accidents). There will be significant overlap, so this does not mean 3M new deaths from the virus, it means elderly people dying sooner due to respiratory issues. This may however stress the healthcare system.

There is a debate as to how to address the virus pre-vaccine. The US is tending towards quarantine. The UK is tending towards allowing it to spread so that the population can develop a natural immunity. Quarantine is likely to be ineffective and result in significant economic damage but will slow the rate of transmission giving the healthcare system more time to deal with the case load.

China’s economy has been largely impacted which has affected raw materials and the global supply chain. It may take up to six months for it to recover.

Global GDP growth rate will be the lowest in 30 years at around 2%.

S&P 500 will see a negative growth rate of -15% to -20% for 2020 overall.

There will be economic damage from the virus itself, but the real damage is driven mostly by market psychology. Viruses have been with us forever. Stock markets should fully recover in the 2nd half of the year.

In the past week there has been a conflating of the impact of the virus with the developing oil price war between KSA and Russia. While reduced energy prices are generally good for industrial economies, the US is now a large energy exporter, so there has been a negative impact on the valuation of the domestic energy sector. This will continue for some time as the Russians are attempting to economically squeeze the American shale producers and the Saudi’s are caught in the middle and do not want to further cede market share to Russia or the US.

Technically the market generally has been looking for a reason to reset after the longest bull market in history.

There is NO systemic risk. No one is even talking about that. Governments are intervening in the markets to stabilize them, and the private banking sector is very well capitalized. It feels more like 9/11 than it does like 2008.

Be calm, be healthy and be kind to others.

– John Davis