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History as a Guide for Understanding

  1. We are hearing and seeing a lot about re-opening the economy in stages. Some are for it – some are against it. One fear is that if we abandon what has worked these past weeks to contain COVID-19 (social distancing, wearing masks/gloves, staying at home) that there will be a spike in infections and worse deaths. While that may be true, the risks may amplify when considering the larger impact of an economy in shut-down. Just as we are in “uncharted waters” with this epidemic, we have no way to know how the future will unfold. Right now…today…at this moment… there are significant strains on society beyond the infections from the virus. We can look at the number of businesses that will never re-open their doors. We can look at the number of unemployed people in the US (as of April 18 there were around 26 million unemployed – an est. of a 16% rate). We can look at the severe and unknown effect this is having on our mental health system. In this memo  Howard Marks states simply that since we have not been here before, “…you simply can’t say you know how it’ll turn out.” My suggestion is to pull back from extreme conclusions on either side of the discussion. What we must do as a society is a) get on top of this virus, and b) not be afraid to get back to work. Keep the faith – we will overcome! 
  2. Harry Truman said, “America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.” These are appropriate words for the sentiment shared by Ben Carlson here  as he addresses how to use history as a guide for understanding what it taking place today – and why.
  3. A picture is often worth a thousand words. After reviewing this graphic by Nick Routley of the Visual Capitalist, it seemed appropriate to share it with you. I will confess that it took me (a non-scientist) a few passes for it to sink in. The narrative below the Visualizing What COVID-19 Does to Your Body was more helpful and (less) frightening. It helps to know more about the enemy that we are all fighting and will one day overcome. 

FourThoughts – Jim Butler, CFP®, AIF®

 

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