America: “The Shining City on a Hill”

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I have managed portfolios through many raging bear markets, including the Long-Term Capital Management crisis of 1998, the 2000 “tech wreck,” 9-11 terrorism, the 2008 Great Recession and now the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. This bear market was so fast and furious this time it put markets and the global economy in a state of “shock and awe.” It is unsettling for everyone in our business, but as my manager reminded me this morning “our clients trust in us not to waiver.” We truly are all in this together, and we should rely on each other because “this too shall pass.” I thought of the following since I heard it live – well on TV. In 1989, President Ronald Reagan gave his farewell address to the nation. In it, Ronald Reagan defined America as “the shining city upon a hill.” Here is an excerpt:

“I've spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don't know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind, it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace — a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors, and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here.”

In 1989 we still had “pay phones” we had recently gone through the 1987 market crash; the first real estate crash was soon to ensue; we have had more than three wars since then and we are at the height of economic prosperity going into 2020. Then the coronavirus slams into America and the world. Is it a war? No. Are we asking our young and brightest to fight and possibly perish? No. Are we being asked to stay inside on the couch? Yes. Are our children in the most exciting time of their life in high school, college and at peak of the sports season when told it’s all cancelled? Yes. President Kennedy said also “Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” My recommendation is help someone in need. Help a lot of people and the euphoria may be better than winning a championship.

In closing, the heroes in this story are our front-line medical people — help them — buy pizza. It is the private economy, including our biotech firms, pharmaceutical firms that will find a cure by our best and brightest scientists and doctors. Our service economy needs our help as our friends and family in this sector have no income immediately. Maybe this could be a time that our country is unified in a common goal to get Americans back to work. America is the shining city on a hill. We can do this.

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