The concept of all things being connected is on my mind. Every glance I take at the news of the day makes it obvious why. And, every day that brings us closer to the colder months makes it more consequential.
In the narrow world of financial markets, the concept of connectedness is clear.
When the Federal Reserve makes cash trash, the flow of investment dollars moves elsewhere. As if moving outward in concentric circles, money moves out the risk spectrum in search of better returns.
After this drives up the price of one investment type after another – inevitably squeezing future returns down – the search moves into even riskier areas. The difficulty lies not in determining the final destination of this journey, but in the timing of the end game. It always ends, of course.
As Chuck Prince, ex-CEO of Citigroup, said just before the mortgage mess exploded, “As long as the music is playing, you’ve got to get up and dance.” Similarly, Warren Buffett wisely wrote just before the tech-bubble popped, “[People] hate to miss a single minute of what is one helluva party. They are dancing in a room in which the clocks have no hands.”
In the broader, real world, the concept of connectedness is equally clear.
As we move into the fall months and move indoors, the virus begins to gain a major advantage. Our next moves will matter.
After six months of sacrifice, the next test of our collective commitment to stop the spread is approaching. I’m afraid we’re in the process of failing.
In Grand Traverse County, our average positive test rate for Covid-19 moved from a summer low of around 1% in early August to over 5% in early September. Epidemiologists want positivity rates below 3%. We have seen about 225 positive cases in Grand Traverse County over the past month. That was with only half of the recommended number of tests given. So, you should probably double it.
With almost all of our area’s schools resuming face-to-face instruction, my focus on our area’s connectedness is heightened. The safety of our 20,000+ kids and our 2,000+ school employees is intimately linked to the safety of our entire community, including our area’s businesses and the livelihoods of thousands of their employees.
The virus thrives on our connectedness. The resumption of typical face-to-face schooling fails the safety test for our community on nearly every level. The daily process of crowding thousands of kids and adults indoors, combined with inadequate testing and a palpable sense of virus fatigue, is a perfect recipe for accelerated spread.
The sad irony is that our desperation to hear the music and ignore the clock on the wall is the very thing that will hold back our return toward normalcy. Remember, we’re all in this together, right?
“We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we do not benefit from others’ activities.” – Dalai Lama