David Booth on Righting the Ship


Transcript

None of us has ever lived through anything like what we are experiencing with COVID-19. People are worried about their health and the health of their loved ones. They are asking when can they get back to work, or for those that have lost their jobs, when can they start looking for work. Everyone wants to know when we’ll be able to get to the other side of this problem. I do, too.

Any time there is uncertainty, and perhaps there has never been more than right now, people want forecasts. If you know me, you know I’m not in the forecasting business. If anything, this crisis should remind us all how bad people are at predicting the future. Who predicted six months ago that the world would look like this today? I doubt one out of the eight billion people on this planet did.

So while I don’t have a crystal ball to see into the future and tell you when this will be over, I do have a lot of hope. That hope is based on what I am seeing around the world. The energy and expertise of the human race is focused on this one problem. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Governments are jumping in trying to keep economies afloat. Even in the US, the legislative and executive branches have been working together. How many people a year ago would have predicted that a bipartisan bill worth $2 trillion dollars would pass? Yet another example of why I don’t forecast.

The Federal Reserve is doing a great job. What we’re seeing is so different from the Fed’s response to the Great Depression. Back then, they did all the wrong things like draining liquidity out of the system. They didn’t know what was happening. Today, things are very different.

What’s the optimal amount of liquidity? We don’t know exactly, but we’ve learned that it's better to overshoot than undershoot.

Medical scientists are constantly developing new tools to fight this thing, from testing to treatments. They are studying antibodies and immune systems, and hopefully we’ll soon have a vaccine in place. Great treatments are likely to happen even sooner.

In the private sector, business owners are doing their darndest to keep people employed. No one likes laying off their workers. Businesses want to grow, not shrink. I am so impressed with how resourceful and creative people have been in doing so much work from home. Watching all this happen within my firm has just been remarkable.

There’s been a lot of pain. There’ll be more ahead. Lives are being lost. Many find themselves without jobs that were very secure just a month ago, but I believe things will get better.

So I may not know the when, but I do know the who, why, and how. Human beings are wired to improve their lives and the lives of others. We’re all pitching in and trying to help in every way we can. Washing our hands, checking on elderly neighbors, paying our dog walkers not to walk our dogs. It’s the big things and the little things. There’s so much spontaneous goodwill. This is what people do. We help each other. We fix problems that need fixing. That’s the core of every great business.

And that’s why I have so much hope. While I may not know when we will right this ship, I have never felt more certain that we will.



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