Friday File: Buying and Selling (at a Social Distance)

Checking up on the Real Money Portfolio -- A few stop losses, and a slew of buying in a wild week

By Travis Johnson, Stock Gumshoe, March 13, 2020


It’s been a wild week. The mood was still pretty upbeat on Monday and Tuesday, a little anxiety but a lot of complacency (including mine)… I was in Toronto early this week, with plenty of hand washing and hand sanitizer but no real signs of panic or changes in lifestyle for most folks — the Maple Leafs game was a near-sellout, maybe the last hurrah for the NHL season, restaurants were bustling, people were going to work and walking the streets, the malls were full of people, and life goes on… though we saw no one who looked or sounded ill, so maybe one benefit of panic is that everyone with a cold or the flu is actually feeling the social pressure (or personal responsibility) and staying home. There were a few masks being worn (ineffectively, as all the health experts are telling us), but I didn’t see more than a handful, and the airport was a little quieter than usual, and the planes less full, but I wouldn’t have thought anything of the difference if it weren’t for virus anxiety.

A few days pass, Tom Hanks and the First Lady of Canada test positive for COVID-19, Ontario went from a handful of cases connected to one traveler to 80 or so, and North America is, perhaps belatedly, actually now getting things in gear and responding aggressively to the spread of the virus and treating it as an emergency instead of an inconvenience. As of today, offices at huge firms around the country are transitioning to telework, every college I can think of has closed up early, in most cases for the rest of the year as they send their students off for Spring Break and tell them not to come back (with teachers quickly learning online teaching tools so they can finish out the semester remotely).

And the rubicon seemed to be crossed on Thursday evening… we just today heard that our public schools will close for two weeks here as well, something that seems to have washed over the country as a trend in just the last 24 hours or so… not because there have been any cases in our county, but because there probably are some that we don’t know about yet, cases who will show themselves once viral spread translates into sickness and testing becomes more widely available, and public health officials ...

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