People are losing their marbles, markets are on a roller coaster ride, clients are canceling appointments with me and I... am as calm as ever?
That's right. Calmer than a green snake with an endless supply of sugarcane.
If anything, I'm even happier than usual. Here's why:
Stocks are down; it's a great time to buy.
I'm going to be straight up with you: I'm taking this pandemic as a huge opportunity to make money, either in the short (6–36 months) or long term (10+ years).
On the stock market, for one reason or another, the prices of nearly everything are dropping steeply. This is the perfect time to stay absolutely calm and buy stocks while they're hitting lows they haven't for months or years.
Here's the thing, I believe one of 2 things will happen:
- The economy will bounce back (I'm betting on this), or
- this is the end of the world.
If the former is true, buying stocks now basically guarantees that I will make a lot of money when the market bounces back (which I anticipate will happen in the next few months/years). If you're curious, check out what stock I'm buying during COVID-19.
... and if the latter is true, and this is the end of the world, my money will be worthless anyway, so who cares whether I had it in the bank or in the stock market?
People will realize disaster preparation is important.
I believe disaster planning is critically important. For private individuals and for businesses.
I'm not panicking about COVID-19 because I expected something like COVID-19 to happen.
In the back of my mind there's always this thought: "what would I do if all of a sudden I lose all of my income, all of the money I have in the bank, the place I live and all my most valuable possessions". And I — more or less — have a plan on how to deal with just about any combination of the disaster scenarios I can imagine.
This is just something that's always in the back of my head and I am constantly adjusting.
What do my disaster plans look like? They're all different, but for the most part they are a combination of the following:
1. Being prepared
- Having flexible financial obligations
... and knowing exactly what options I have and what the terms of ending them are. E.g. knowing all the terms of a home loan, exactly what forbearance would look like, when I would be at risk of foreclosure, how affordable and when selling the real estate to pay off the loan would be the best option (taking into account terrible market conditions)... I don't have a mortgage, but I'm already thinking about this.
- Keeping an emergency fund.
I.e. always having some cash on hand (in the bank) to coast for a few months (or years) in case all other sources of income are cut.
2. Taking action
- Minimizing expenses.
Anything that I cannot pay for with existing cash flow goes out the window, starting with the least essential expenses. Anything else non-essential also gets cut to prepare for a possible longer period of bad times (depending on how bad the outlook is). Generally going into a "maximum-economy mode"... Saving even more than usual so that I can ride out whatever hardship as long as possible.
People without good disaster plans are the only ones panicking now.
COVID-19 is now putting everyone's mental, financial, and physical disaster preparation plans into effect... and those who lack them are the only ones who are really getting hit.
When I look at the people who I consider the smartest in the world and my circle of contacts, COVID-19 is just a tiny bump in the road for them. A minor hurdle they have to get over. A small test of their competence and preparedness.
I both hope and anticipate that this pandemic is just a wake up call for most people. I do not think COVID-19 will have any long-lasting catastrophic effects on the world, and it will show people how prepared they really are for situations like this.
One of my favorite quotes in the world is from John F. Kennedy:
"The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining."
— John F. Kennedy
If you're panicking now, it's only because you weren't expecting anything like this to ever happen, and that was your mistake, nobody else's.
To me, the fact that I am in the same positive state of mind as always and that my way of life will be completely unaffected by this outbreak just proves to me that I have prepared well (at least for this magnitude of a situation), and that makes me feel good.
I know these things are easy for me to say now, but part of the reason I'm documenting my life is to be historically accurate... and I've been doing it long enough to prove that I'm not just saying it now: here's a post I added to Twitter almost a year ago, while basically every was good in the world and people were still making a huge killing in basically every market and industry.
People will innovate and become more agile.
I think it's funny how — here in Poland especially — schools are trying to scramble to make lessons continue online.
I think it's funny because Poland is incredibly behind on this kind of technology and they are failing to get it up and running on such short notice... and I anticipate many public schools around the world are in similar positions.
I believe that innovation and staying at the forefront of technology is important for anybody and any company that wants to be a leader (or just do well... or sometimes just stay alive) in any industry... and I think it's not only funny, but sad that schools in this country are in absolutely no way prepared for this kind of scenario.
All the tools exist to put Poland's academics (or just about 1st-world country's) at the top of the world, but they aren't being utilized, and it takes a Pandemic to make them realize it.
It also just shows how ludicrous and borderline pointless going to school for educational purposes is. The global school system is so behind the real world in just about every way imaginable.
On the other side of the spectrum, many companies are taking this as an opportunity to prove how agile they really are — how quickly they can innovate and adjust to rapidly-changing economic conditions — by taking their products and services online... etc. Real estate agents are doing walk-throughs on homes over video chat on Messenger (instead of in-person), and getting results!
I think situations like this are awesome. They show you how resilient people and companies really are, and how disconnected from reality others are. For some reason, I just love that.
Keep calm and carry on.
I know, people are dying. Diseases are terrible. I'm not saying that I'm happy people are getting sick.
But I am staying calm because:
- I never really think there is a good reason to panic.
- Given all the information from the World Health Organization, it's pretty clear that COVID-19 is not going to make people go extinct; it's just a bad case of the flu.
- There are clear, well-described actions we can take to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe throughout this pandemic.
- We as humans are going to get over this. I see no other eventuality.
I'm not a medical expert. I understand why governments are taking the measures they are to stop the spread of the disease. If you ask me: sure, it's great (most of it). They're just doing what they need to.
The economy will suffer in the short term from all this. Unprepared businesses or those who cannot adapt will probably go bankrupt, especially small businesses.
... but there is no real reason to freak out.
- I'm a huge believer in the world economy. I am 100% confident it will recover from COVID-19.
- Governments around the world are doing a great job to stop the spread of COVID-19.
- We should be maintaining good hygiene and other good practices for disease prevention now just as much as ever (if you've been waiting until now to wash your hands and stay physically active then seriously... wtf? 😂).
- We have much bigger problems that we should worry about, which are killing many more people than COVID-19 or that will definitively have much worse, long-lasting effects on the world: climate change, heart disease, the general health and happiness of everyone everywhere, and the fact that Ben and Jerry's won't bring back the "Mission to Marzipan" ice cream flavor, just to name a few.
So that's my take: COVID-19 is a forced minor collapse of the world economy. It's a great opportunity to buy into the stock market, to get some much-needed rest, to spend time with family (where possible) and to catch up on a lot of work at home.
As I write this, I'm outside of Poznań, Poland spending time with my family on my parents' farm. So far, it seems like we may not have seen the worse of the pandemic:
- most stores are sold out of toilet paper, most meat products, and soap;
- all schools in Poland have been closed for at least 2 weeks;
- they are starting to close shopping malls, movie theaters, restaurants, etc.;
- they are talking about closing down major cities (like Poznań) — no one will be able to enter or leave.
But again: I'm calm, I anticipate it could get much worse, and I'm taking this opportunity to spend time with my family, catch up on work, and buy stocks.
Thank you for reading 🤩🤩 you are a magical star and you should be proud of yourself! See you at the end of the pandemic!