Here are some things I have been thinking about that will likely be permanent changes to our way of living. Some will cause business and investment opportunities.
- Baby Boomers will move online. COVID-19 is forcing Boomers to buy everything online from groceries to prescription medications. America’s wealthiest generation, who has been notoriously slow to transition to the online world, is finally there, and won’t be going back to their analog ways. I’m pretty sure this will apply to my parents as well.
- Millennials may abandon the gig economy. Younger Americans will gravitate to jobs that provide more stability. After the living through the great recession of 2008 and now the COVID-19 recession, workers under the age of 40 may trade their transient employment patterns and consumption driven habits, for more traditional career paths and saving/spending habits that resemble their depression-era great-grandparents. My grandfather who lived through the depression never went “shopping” a day in his life. He passed away in 1998, with about $100K in cash in his wall safe and a couple of other places.
- Less is more. After being forced to ration everything from food to toilet paper, Americans will hopefully realize how much waste there is in our lives and will appreciate the virtue of simplicity. Today, I bought some take-out for lunch and pulled a twenty out of my wallet for the first time in weeks. Consuming less actually feels kind of good.
- Dodd-Frank will save the banks. Barring a full-blown depression, Dodd-Frank capital provisions for banks will protect most of them from a repeat of 2008. Talk of a full repeal of the flagship financial bill is most likely dead. Bank stocks could be a smart buy, but I’d still wait a month or two.
- The number of virtual business meetings will double. I didn’t know how to use Zoom before COVID-19. I have no doubt it will replace a lot of in-person meetings once this all passes. I also believe people will rethink their offices spaces. Residential real estate will bounce back quickly, but commercial real estate might be in real trouble in a lot of markets.
- Data on the environment will strengthen the case for action. I swear, every day in San Diego has been more beautiful than the one before. It’s like the earth is taking a breath for the first time in a bout a century. My guess is that carbon levels and other environmental metrics will show measurable changes to the positive when this is behind us. Will it convince everyone that climate change is man-made? I doubt it, but it will make the case stronger than ever and it might be enough to get the governments of the world to finally take the issue seriously.