On Monday, June 1st, I went home after work, sat in my chair, and just smiled. A one ear to the other ear kind of smile. Deb asked me what I was grinning about and all I could say was, “Gosh today was a great day.” What made it so great were so many simple things. It was the first day since March 25th that I had been together in the office with my staff and partners. There was laughter and joking around again inside the walls in which I had been the only occupant of for eight weeks. Ideas were shared, there were talks about interest rates, riots, and portfolios. The phone rang, clients came in, potential new clients came in. There was the smell of lunches being warmed in the kitchen. My work life was beginning to feel closer to “normal” again.
But it isn’t “normal.” There are no handshakes or hugs being given. The coffee bar and candy dishes have been removed to eliminate them as potential germ spreaders. There is a blue tape line around Sondra’s work area to represent a safe social distance for people to remain behind. We all have masks for meetings with clients who feel more comfortable masking. Hand sanitizer rests on the divider in the entryway. Rather than coming in, the mail person now puts our incoming mail through the mail slot, and we take our own outgoing mail to a drop box in the evening. Tables are wiped down after meetings and doorknobs are wiped down a couple times a day. None of this was even remotely normal when 2020 began.
The old normal of our economy isn’t back yet either. We’ve just been seeing the carnage of April come through. Unemployment at 14.7% with estimates of 19% by year end. Consumer spending was down 13.6% in April. GDP was down 5%. Household savings rate was at 33% in April. These numbers are astronomical when compared to normal times. Especially when compared to the beginning of 2020. At this point in time, I don’t think anyone can predict what a normal economy will look like and when it will occur. The gradual re-opening of our economy might still not be enough to save a lot of small businesses. What will business travel look like after the pandemic? Do you really need to have face to face contact and a handshake to close that business deal on the other side of the country? How will that affect not only the airlines, but hotels, restaurants, and car rental companies? Will streaming movies into your home replace the crowded theatres where we have been going to watch a movie and eat overpriced Junior Mints? Even with a vaccine, this pandemic has changed the way our economy and society will operate in the future.
Some day, “social distancing” will be a thing of the past and handshakes and hugs won’t be taboo. The coffee maker and candy dishes will return to their rightful places and mask burning parties will replace shelter at home. Until then, I am content and will celebrate each step forward we take in returning our country to a more normal status.
These are the opinions of Mike Berry and not necessarily those of Cambridge, are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed or acted upon as individualized investment advice.
Mike Berry is a Registered Representative offering securities through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment Advisor Representative, Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor. Legacy Wealth Management, LLC and Cambridge are not affiliated. Cambridge does not offer tax advice.
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