Fear and uncertainty abound in our coronavirus-tinted world. The stock market is in turmoil, businesses are shrinking and unemployment is exploding. Not to mention, we're all cooped up in our homes in an effort to slow down a global pandemic.
And yet, there is optimism that a new “normal” will ensue just as soon as we can “flatten the curve” and halt the spread of this contagious and deadly virus. Just as we learned from the Great Depression, 9/11 and the financial collapse of 2008, we may also learn a great deal from this economic disaster.
“We know this will pass,” says Dana Brewer, Principal and Financial Advisor at Birchwood Financial Partners. She reminds us that unlike the financial crisis of 2007-2009, the COVID-19 pandemic is different, right down to its roots. “In my opinion, the nature of the shock is different because this was triggered by a health emergency, not caused by a financial crisis – and we understand the path of a health event better than the uncharted subprime mortgage crisis.”
Brewer also explains that in this crisis, there is no perceived “bad guy” as there was in 2007-2009. The current crisis was not caused by anyone intentionally profiting at someone else’s expense. Because of that, we're already learning different lessons from this crisis. Brewer shares three observations about the coronavirus crisis that may shape us once we’re through this pandemic.
Adjusting to a Slower Pace of Life
With a shelter-in-place (or “stay-at-home”) order active statewide, most Minnesotans are spending much of their time indoors, only leaving their homes for essential items and exercise. As a result, we’re forced to adjust to a slower pace in our typically busy and hectic lives.
“I think we’re going to appreciate the slower cadence to our lives and I think we’re all going to realize it can be much less expensive and still satisfying,” says Brewer.
Part of a Global Community
It appears the coronavirus has slowly made its way around the world since the beginning of the year. For those who have tracked the virus, data shows the disease progressively attacking countries and regions. No one is spared the risk, and in many cases countries have supported and provided aid to one another.
Brewer believes it has elevated empathy as part of a global community. “We clearly see our role in the world community and financially, it has become evident that our economic markets are truly world markets.”
A Retirement 'Test Drive'
The terms “shelter-in-place” and “social distancing” have become household phrases. But for some people who are deep into their retirement, the notion of spending a lot of time alone or with a spouse may be quite familiar. While not the same situation, people considering retirement get a small taste of that lifestyle. From shrinking social circles to living on a fixed income, some of the day-to-day adjustments that we've all had to make recently are the same ones people make when heading into retirement.
“Preparedness for retirement in our lives is more than financial," Brewer said. "It’s important that we consider how our social and spiritual network will support us as well. There are other personal matters to figure out beyond money.”
Through the lens of history, we recognize that the good health of our country – both physically and economically – will hopefully return. Brewer cautions that it won’t be fast and it may take time for businesses to rebuild. Yet, through the tremendous loss that has been felt around the world, there are positives that can be taken away.
“I see countries helping other countries," reflects Brewer. "It isn’t just neighboring states or just in the United States. I hope we come away with a better understanding of how we live in this world as global neighbors.”