A month ago, the sky was blue, birds were singing, and the stock market was at a record high. Then, things started to change. First, there was rumbling about some virus outbreak in China, but President Xi assured us they had it well contained. Move along, he said, nothing to see here.
Second, Wall Street became surprisingly nervous by the increased probability of a democratic socialist in the White House. At the same time, we learned that President Xi was wrong or had lied. Coronavirus patients soon began showing up on American shores. As economic activity decreased, the demand for oil also decreased and prices started falling, slowly at first, Third, Vladimir Putin sensed an opportunity to maximize economic chaos in America by torpedoing the “OPEC” summit last week. Of course, this also hurts Russia in the short run, but it helps Putin in the long run. Fourth, did I mention that North Korea just fired a “mystery missile” which is no longer front page news?
Since the birds last sung, the stock market has fallen 10-14%, That was before the floor opened up. A 10% drop is a correction, while a 20% drop is a bear market. A 52% drop was the Great Recession. Our stock market is hitting “limit down” freezes. (I know President Trump fired his in-house pandemic expert but pray he still has his “plunge protection” team.)
It is a good time to remember Warren Buffet’s timeless advice to “be greedy when others are fearful, and be fearful when others are greedy.”