It feels like the Coronavirus outbreak is the end of an era. The black swan with clipped wings that ended the long bull market after the GFC over a decade ago. A new decade, we’re 10 years older and no wiser.
Almost 20 years ago, 9/11 defined the end of one period of time – the dot.com boom and following bust. There were 2996 deaths in 9/11 and 2,765 from Coronavirus (and counting) so they are comparable in size and in scale. Think of it as a once in a decade event – not as bad as WWII or anything like that but certainly it’ll cast a shadow over the next 10 years.
9/11 changed a lot of things and was the defining event in my adult life. It seems like things only got worse after that and sometimes… I almost wish… 9/11 never happened.*
I would say that the openness of the world economy and societies that we have from liberalising societies and economies, globalisation and mass immigration will now have pressures in the other direction. We’ve seen it with Trump and his wall, Brexit and the “hostile environment”, Chinese trade wars, South Sea invasion and Uighur oppression in China, Rohingya genocide, Hindu nationalism and nobody really caring that much about Yemen/Syria/Middle East and a lot of other problems of this day. Not to forget how the rich have said “F**k you” to the rest of the world when it comes to climate change. It’s a lot easier to have government policies of xenophobia or to just not give a f**k when your neighbours might have the plague!
It feels like with the recent falls in stock markets and the implications that a world where we are constantly on guard for the plague is where we are heading. People will be afraid of everyone else and we’ll all just stay in our homes when we can.
At least with terrorism we knew that we should be suspicious of anyone with dark skin or who looked like a muslim.** That was easy, but now we should be wary of everyone. And if they don’t have the plague, they are probably one of those mad remainers / leaver / snowflake / boomer / chav / pikey / posh TWAT / lower class / middle class / upper class / misogynist / sexist / racist / not racist enough / high brow / low brow / foreigner / inbred / not from this parish / green freak / petrol head / liberal / tory / socialist / gender undefined / patriot / traitor / vegan / animal murderer / different type of alcohol drinker from what I find acceptable.
We can now all sit in our own little bubbles – with targeted infotainment news to tell us the things we want to believe in that we already believe in. Tailor made disinformation to keep us suspended in our own ignorance but certain of our own prejudice and that anyone who doesn’t believe exactly as we do it is wrong.
My fears for the future
I fear that first of all, we don’t get a handle on global warming and with different countries pursuing their own agendas and the US / China not actively playing their part we cook the world in pursuit of our own selfish consumer lives.
Secondly, I fear that the wealth I’ve built up gets eroded away by poor returns from the market. Seeing 5% falls in the space of a week screams “BUY!!!” to my but what happens when prices keep falling?
Thirdly, that we enter a world where there is more nationalism – but that’s another story.
Beyond that I’m not afraid of much. All the bad news of the world doesn’t really affect me and my family and it doesn’t really mean that much unless you let it. On the stock market front. The recent pull back in prices means that since I’m still accumulating, I am in a better position long term – but that only assumes that after Coronavirus things are business as usual and things recover and I’m not so sure of that right now.
So – what do you think? Is this the end of an era? Maybe it just bookends a decade 2010-20, the roaring teens?
*Tongue in cheek but the US & UK governments didn’t let a serious crisis go to waste.
**Again this is tongue in cheek but true enough for many people’s attitude but not mine.