A Further Look: The Tools and The Imagination
David Root, CFP®
“You cannot tell from appearances how things will go. Sometimes imagination makes things out far worse than they are; yet without imagination not much can be done.”
Almost exactly one year ago, the pervasive question on our minds was, “am I going to be OK?” As financial markets tumbled, the economy came to a screeching halt and our daily lives were forever altered. With limited information and no relatable experience to reference, we collectively descended into the unknown darkness of a once-in-a-hundred years pandemic and its accompanying deep economic recession.
Not only was the outlook for the future uncertain, many began fearing the worst. And of course, this fear was far from just financial.
Using the stock market as a gauge for future expectations though, the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq respectively lost nearly 35%, 31%, and 24% between the beginning of the year and March 23, 2020 according to data from S&P Capital IQ. Albeit imperfect, this indicator did not provide a comforting endorsement of a brighter future.
One year later, our world is decidedly different. And despite the bleakest days of March and April 2020, today we are moving beyond anything even our most vibrant imaginations could have conjured then.
Out of the depths, the Government responded with stimulus payments, loans to small businesses, and the Federal Reserve lowered interest rates to zero to ensure functioning credit markets. New technologies emerged and took root, bridging the gaps in our personal and professional lives. Companies and entire industries transformed and adapted, some even thrived in a new world of gee-whiz technology.
Just 2 years ago, though Zoom, Google Sheets, and DoorDash all existed, would anyone have imagined confining the 100+ million U.S workforce to their homes? Moreover, could anyone have subsequently imagined in that situation that a majority of American businesses would continue to function relatively OK? As a business owner and frequent traveler, I certainly did not have the imagination to come up with that in 2019.
With our personal and professional transition under way, and our medical community’s brilliance in developing and distributing a groundbreaking vaccine, the stock market responded. In April 2021, again just 12 months removed from countrywide lockdown, the S&P 500 closed at an all-time high.
Today, investors are not just imagining, but witnessing through real time data, an economy growing strongly. In fact, economists are expecting one of the highest growth rates in our country’s history this year. And even more telling, a high rate of growth is expected to be sustained in the years to come through demand for services, leisure, and construction.
Prospering capitalist economies also require a bustling base of entrepreneurship. Currently, new business formation is occurring in unprecedented fashion. The final two quarters of 2020 recorded the highest number of applications for new businesses in nearly 20 years. It appears that out of the economic wreckage and job loss, of all things, our entrepreneurial side has been unleashed once again.
Through all of this, when put to the most demanding of tests, we are reminded that America is still the world’s engine for technology, innovation and freedom.
In the wake of our most challenging years, we now have reason to imagine great things ahead. It seems fitting to close with another quote from a man who witnessed the darkest of days, only to emerge stronger on the other side: “Neither the sudden shock of battle nor the long-drawn trials of vigilance and exertion will wear us down. Give us the tools and we will finish the job.”
Thanks for reading.
Founder and CEO
DBR & CO
David Root is Founder and CEO at DBR & CO, a Pittsburgh-based wealth management firm. If you would like to contact the author, David Root, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 412-227-2800.
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