Weekly Thoughts 3 April 2020

We’re 8 days in. I’m washing dishes and sweeping the house more than I used to. The Murray House is doing puzzles, reading, finding a movie to watch most nights, playing cards, doing normal family stuff like being in each’s space for too long…. My son is doing his rugby coach’s gym program and uploading it onto the website for Coach to check on – through seeing heart rate effort. When you and I went to school it would have been; ‘Sir, I promise you, I did it’.

I’ve been allowing myself an extra hour’s sleep in the morning, after discovering that there seems to be more time in life what with no planning of travel required in the day. So the clock has been set for 6 am instead of the usual 5 am. However, I haven’t always been getting to six, what with the local resident herd of Hadidas and gang of Vervet Monkeys not having seen the recent memo that the world is in lock-down. The noise in the trees and on the roof providing a valid reason for going to work at the usual 5.30 am. At this time not only do I miss these creatures, but I usually gain the lovely sound of our resident owls saying goodnight. Or do owls say good-day when they go to bed?

What do I say about the picture of the world? So many constantly changing conversations. I am bombarded daily – four today alone – with various communications. Already this week I have listened, in various ways: videos and this new Zoom-Zoom internet communication thing, to three different fund manager talks around market and/or economic COVID-19 consequences. On Monday I have another, where quite a varied group of people have been put together for us to patch into. Us being a restriction on the first 100 to put our hands up and register.

The guys at Orbis, an offshore investment company I use for some of you, made the comment that they don’t have enough money to invest in the opportunities they see in the cheap markets right now. Implying they need investors to give them more money to put into the markets because many companies are very cheap right now. Too many sellers, not enough buyers.

On Tuesday the Marriott guys showed us how good many bond yields have become to invest in, due to governments around the world looking to raise funds. Periodically, while talking live to a group of us, he would get distracted by watching the bond traders, via another screen while sitting in his lounge, for the price he wanted to buy at, with a few hundred million Rand waiting to be used.

While there are many very, very serious consequences to many clients and many people – I learn of these daily – which are going to be here for months or years to come, markets are providing opportunities. However, we have not yet seen what will happen if the world locks down for three or four or five or six months. That will be another picture. I personally don’t think that can be done. We will have to continue and let the consequences be the consequences. Life or death or economic.

Interestingly, insurance companies have also come out with plans to help clients from either a premium paying point of view or an underwriting point of view. But this is as recent as the last two days.

There are changes daily, from what the various financial services companies, Banks included, are putting out there. A bank doesn’t want to own your property or business. It would rather help you hang in there so that you can run it for them again one day. There is already much being said about what the world will be like after all this, what we’ll have learnt. But what’s the point of looking at that when the problem is not over. When survival is not over. When people are still struggling. There is no point and it’s not fair.