No sooner had the coronavirus crisis been declared the “worst than the 9/11 and 2008 combined” than, sheesh, it is winding down. Bestsellers will be written about the terrible March when airlines and cruise lines sort of almost nearly went under but then were actually just sold to Saudis. You’ll regale your kids with the story of where you were when the trading stopped as stock market plunged.
Mental distress has gone down. The travel sector has raised tens of billions of dollars in new money and your ordinary Joe Schmo will get a $1,200 check. American Airlines, Alaska Air, Delta Air Lines and dozens of others have held out their hands and been given loans. And now the flattening of the COVID-19 curve is offered up as evidence that everything is swell. It seems almost unbelievable how we thought a recession is just around the corner.
Think the investors who are pouring money into S&P stocks know something special? They don’t. Since the airlines and companies don’t really know the value of their own books, neither do outside investors. Huge corporations are sitting on huge piles of assets for which there is no market. Clearly, investors aren’t acting on carefully calibrated, unique insights. They’re praying, hoping, guessing and following patterns. Some will be right; some will be wrong.
It’s a relief to have this wannabe crisis out of the way. And here’s the silver lining: If Airlines are still privately owned, this is almost certainly a buying opportunity for long-term investors. Shout out to my brother Warren Buffett.
We like to think that pros do endless amounts of due diligence before they make their moves. In reality, their research largely comes down to a set of simple assumptions: that the economy will recover sooner rather than later and “opportunities like these don’t happen very often.” They’re buying because their buddies are. And they’re buying because people have the money. What about due diligence? They aren’t doing any.
We’re still at the beginning of this “once-in-a-lifetime” crisis. We haven’t had the expected recession yet (at least that is what the MSM is telling us). The U.S. has been hit with serious job losses and house prices will start to fall, soon. We’ve just had the expectation of these things, trailed by stress that transformed quickly into a glimmer of panic. Who cares, it will all bounce back to where it was in a snapshot. Once the lockdowns are over.
It’s certainly the case that everybody needs to recapitalize after spending the past decade lending madly or spending money on share repurchase. Eventually, some of the investors will end up making a killing.
Somehow I’m neither here nor there. Something is fishy. The rampant optimism, which has bolstered stocks, makes little sense. We are in deep denial. This stimulus-bill bash won’t end with just a vase smashed and a scratch on the dining-room table. You knew this day was coming, didn’t you? No party goes on forever.