If you think the economic decline due to the pandemic has been difficult for you personally, the big picture numbers may be even worse. Analysts project that the total economic disruption could eventually cost between $9 trillion and $33 trillion. Many economists are advocating that the U.S. — and the world — make a concerted effort to prevent future pandemics.1 Much like individual health care, the cost for prevention is significantly less than the cost of treatment.
In fact, the coronavirus has exposed many weaknesses in our infectious-disease surveillance and ability to respond quickly and effectively. While state governments continue to work on their current response, many in the private sector are looking toward the future.2
We advise our clients to retain that same perspective. If your retirement portfolio is built to weather an economic decline, you likely have financial vehicles that can help supplement your household income during financial difficulties. By keeping your investments focused on the long term, they can help you ride out market volatility and give your money the opportunity to continue growing.[BC1] [RC2] If you’d like advice in this area, we are here for you.
Government attempts to revive the economy have been mixed. The quick efforts to roll out stimulus legislation to benefit consumers and small business ran into headwinds. Many states’ unemployment programs were not built to handle so many claims at once, resulting in delays and confusion. The application system for small business loans led to haphazard benefits, wherein many small employers lost out while large corporations, such as Shake Shack and the Los Angeles Lakers, received millions (although both companies returned the money).3
The pandemic has impacted nearly every household, business, organization and government agency in some way. At this point, it makes sense to evaluate how we’ve been affected and devise plans to help reduce the risks from similar situations moving forward. Even the Pentagon admits there are flaws in its system for protecting Americans. It recently began the process of rewriting its pandemic playbook for faster and more efficacious response efforts for this type of crisis in the future.4
It just goes to show that even the best-laid plans may not work when stress-tested in a real-life situation. It’s time we all take a deep breath, look at our current position, and determine where we want to be in the future. To some extent, we can rely on the investment markets to enhance our long-term financial futures, but we should set goals and make sure our portfolios remain well-diversified. Merrill[RC3] recently re-assessed its portfolio models with guidance to actively rebalance back to original asset allocation targets. The wealth manager cautioned that markets tend to be more volatile during a presidential election, recommending a diversified approach and using rebalanced funds to add more global equity exposure.5
Content prepared by Kara Stefan Communications.
1 Matt Craven, Adam Sabow, Lieven Van der Veken and Matt Wilson. McKinsey & Company. July 13, 2020. “Not the last pandemic: Investing now to reimagine public-health systems.” https://www.mckinsey.com/industries/public-and-social-sector/our-insights/not-the-last-pandemic-investing-now-to-reimagine-public-health-systems. Accessed Sept. 18, 2020.
3 Zachary B. Wolf. CNN. April 28, 2020. “What Matters: This is what coronavirus capitalism looks like.” https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/markets/what-matters-this-is-what-coronavirus-capitalism-looks-like/ar-BB13ieZ6?ocid=msn360. Accessed Sept. 18, 2020.
4 Bryan Bender. Politico. Sept. 21, 2020. “Pentagon rewrites pandemic plans.” https://www.politico.com/newsletters/morning-defense/2020/09/21/pentagon-rewrites-pandemic-plans-790511. Accessed Sept. 21, 2020.
5 Merrill. Aug. 2020. “The Grinding Recovery.” https://olui2.fs.ml.com/Publish/Content/application/pdf/GWMOL/Viewpoint_August_2020_Merrill.pdf. Accessed Sept. 18, 2020.
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[BC1]This article is advisor-facing. We should avoid using advisor-facing articles for client-facing materials. This statement does not really need a citation.
[RC2]Since we don’t need a citation here, I’ve left it as is without the advisor-facing article.
[RC3]Compliance: I read that “Merrill Lynch” is now referred to as “Merrill.” Since people are used to “Merrill Lynch,” I’m not sure what would be most appropriate from your perspective!