When the 2008 financial crisis hit savvy Americans realized that real estate prices would go down because of the many foreclosures associated with it. But many of us did not predict that the banks would have so much leverage on financial instruments.
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As the story unfolded during the financial crisis, many more dominoes fell! And many of them fell well after the initial crisis hit.
With the coronavirus, we are already looking at supply chain disruptions, diminished trade between countries, a hit to the retail and travel sectors and many other problems.
Still, we need to ask this question: What are we missing? Are there other chips that may still fall, like they did during the financial crisis, that were first overlooked?
In the weeks since we’ve first learned about coronavirus, we have become aware that the U.S. could possibly experience shortages of medicines and vital drugs. This is because a large number of pharmaceutical plants are located in China.
What does this mean for our country? Will the U.S. ultimately have to ration medicine? We are already seeing shortages of masks and other related health items.
Here’s another question: Will the Chinese hold on to more product (medicine) for their own citizens? Will this then lead to another trade dispute between the U.S. and China?
Many analysts believe medical treatment for coronavirus will be available shortly. But what if this virus has staying power?
I hate to look down the road with such negativity but what if coronavirus is something that must be dealt with for years? Beyond any economic measures, how would that change our daily lives in the U.S.?
Most of us believe that the coronavirus will be cleared up in months. That is the informal “consensus.” But we all know the problems that can happen with “consensus” thinking!
As trade continues to slow and the demand for oil continues to drop, what are some of the ramifications of lower oil prices? At $45 barrel, can oil companies still be profitable? Will the industry have to lay off tens of thousands of employees?
Right now, there seems to be no end in sight for the oil slide and it looks like oil will probably soon trade at under $40 barrel.
There are also a number of media outlets that have reported on the wild speculation that the coronavirus did not really originate at a “wet market” in China but instead it was created at a facility where the Chinese work on germ warfare and other military techniques.
Right now this is just a rumor. But what if it is proven that the virus really was something ‘man-made’ by China? Where would the chips fall then? Could this lead to not only economic sanctions but something far worse?
Another ‘wild card’ could be that the president might need to tell private companies to step up manufacturing and go on a “war footing.” For example, could the president tell 3M to stop making their other products and focus just on producing face masks? How would this be viewed?
In the 1970s during the oil crisis, Americans could only fill up their cars with gas on ‘even’ or ‘odd’ days (I experienced this firsthand -- I went along with my father sometimes as he sat in long gas lines). Could we see this kind of rationing at stores if we had shortages of bottled water and other items that would be necessary during a public health quarantine?
I hope none of the scenarios outlined above come true but it’s obvious we need some ‘second level’ thinking!
Ken Mahoney is CEO of Mahoney Asset Management. He has been a market expert for over 31 years. He is the author of 9 books including "10 things To Do Before You Retire" and "Not Your Father’s Retirement."