We’re now a year past the beginning of the real full-on panic about the coronavirus, and just a year past the worst drop in the stock market in March of 2020, so I went back to read my stuff from last April to see what I was doing and how I was feeling. Here’s a snippet of what I wrote almost exactly a year ago:
“Most likely, there will be effective treatments for COVID-19 by later this year, a gradual building of immunity in populations, and an effective vaccine in a year or two, and we’ll feel better about it as science begins to understand this virus better. Most likely, the economy will slowly rebuild as it has after every past deep recession, with many losers and winners but a gradual return to growth and a stock market that moves in fits and starts as investors try to anticipate when that “return to growth” might come. Those things aren’t certain, and people crave certainty, but sometimes you have to have a little faith in generations of innovation and recovery — human beings have lived through a lot of things that are a lot worse than the coronavirus in just the past couple hundred years, and we are resilient. Not immediately, at first many of us fall into a puddle of depression and fear… but eventually we stand back up, counter the problem head-on, and look for the path forward.
“Right now, I’d guess that a lot of us are still in that “puddle” stage… worried and trying to help out on the local level, but so frightened about a virus that is still not very well understood that we feel paralyzed. And the stock market tends to be mostly a measure of human sentiment and emotion during times like these, so that’s not helping.”
I certainly didn’t know that we would bounce back so quickly in the investing world, or that the vaccine progress would be so incredible, but I’m heartened that I was only half-stupid with my portfolio at the time (I sold some stocks on stop losses as they fell, including Disney (DIS), which I gnash my teeth over… but I also couldn’t resist the bargains that popped up everywhere, and I added to a bunch of positions at what turned out to be amazing prices, including Brookfield Asset Management (BAM), PAR Technology (PAR), Markel (MKL), ...