Between October of 2007 and March 2009, the S&P 500 lost 50% of its value. The decline was called the Great Recession. 50% in 1.5 years seems like a lot but it pales compared to the velocity of the current selloff. The right word to describe it is unprecedented. Only three weeks ago, SPY and QQQ were at all-time highs. Fast forward to today, the drawdowns are -25% for QQQ, 27% for SPY, and almost 35% for the small-cap index R2k. This is not like 2008. This is like 2008 compressed in less than a month.
Financial markets tend to over-discount known threats and we are in the midst of panic and forced liquidations. I know things look bleak at the moment and many are thinking about the worst-case scenarios for equities, but I can assure you that this will pass and things will go back to normal. In the meantime, it is important to keep a sizable cash position because the opportunities that will come after this selloff will be generational. Even if the S&P 500 goes to 170, which would be a 50% decline from its all-time highs, it is not going to get there in a straight line. There will be monstrous rallies along the way.
As the fear subsides, people will realize that life continues, even if it is a bit different than what we are used to. This is when select stocks will start to stand out and attract capital. Just like big trends rose from the ashes after 9/11 and many companies went up 10x to 100x in the following years, the same will happen again. Even today, we saw online education platforms like LRN and CHGG stand tall in a red tape. If all education in the U.S. and possibly the world is moving online for the spring or longer, LRN and CHGG are likely to benefit.
In relation to the coronavirus, the best we can do is make sure our immune system is prepared, so rest well, eat healthy food, exercise, add zinc and vitamin supplements to your diet. For the majority of people, this virus is not a threat. For the most endangered groups, we have to come up as a united and understanding society and try to limit everyone’s physical social contacts to prevent the spread. We don’t need the government to tell us that. This too will pass and life will go back to normal.