Good time to consider emergency planning
Investors may have complacently thought that the continued rise in financial valuations would never end. The outlier, the so-called “Black Swan” event, this time the extremely serious impacts of the Covid-19 virus around the world became the catalyst of collapse.
Precipitated by China’s domestic coronavirus tragic challenges and the World Health Organisation subsequent advisory warnings on the global impact of Covid-19, financial markets everywhere could no longer accept the financial uncertainty. Individuals and businesses the world over implemented the proverbial flight-to-safety allocations to limit risk and protect their security valuations.
As if the compounding of Covid-19 health issues and mortality rates were not enough for the world to combat, at the most imprudent time (or not, depending upon your viewpoint), the Middle East’s Saudi Arabia, along with Russia launched an oil pricing war.
Ultimately, lower oil pricing may help everyday consumers further down the road, but the total current fallout cannot be fully calculated, given the impact on financial revenues in oil-related industries and their thousands of employees.
Equity market assets and other values plunged and rose in value, then plunged again. All pertinent indices registered serious volatility and tremendous uncertainty. Increasing redemption demands and liquidity needs heightened the depth of global asset sell-offs.
Not every security gets sold in a market rout.
Safety assets, mainly high-grade country sovereign debt (bonds) were initially in high demand, so much so that US Treasuries (ten-year notes and 30-year bonds) commanded the highest prices — above par value — ever seen.
Conversely, the yield offered on sovereign debt, particularly US treasury 30-year bonds reached depths below 1 per cent ever seen.
Investors took the opportunity to sell higher-risk assets, to settle for the safety of high-grade sovereign debt buying encompassed the global finance spectrum: United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Australia and the like.
As this article went to press on “Black Thursday”, March 12, severely heightened concerns arose about financial entities’ liquidity drain. In response, the US Federal Reserve announced an unprecedented $5 trillion bond-buying plan mollifying the market short-term, then sinking again at day’s end in the US and major trading benchmarks across the globe because of recessionary fears.
“It is the end of the longest bull market on record and the biggest sell-off since 1987’s ‘Black Monday’, with US stocks down 27 per cent in three weeks,” according to Bloomberg.
That’s the global world of finance!
What have we learnt from reading/seeing capital markets imploding?
Financial markets are not invincible as new repetitive phrases are succinctly rolling off every form of social media: quarantine, social distancing, margin calls, travel bans, risk parity, bear market, healthcare capacity.
Wisdom and experience count: financial careerists under 30 have never encountered such an overwhelming negative financial environments. We know, us oldsters who have seen six or more of these financial crises, that this too shall pass.
We really don’t know what the end product of these unpredictable financial investment gyrations will be, but we can plan for ourselves and our families as best we can, residing in our small ocean pool offshore.
How prepared are you and your family for emergencies? Life happens. Disruptions, out of the blue, such as sudden illness, redundancy and accidents. And hurricanes are always in the back of our minds, of course.
We naively assume disruptions won’t happen to us or we just can’t seem to find the time to think ahead.
More often than not, we are right. Nothing untoward happens, but — when it does, our complacency is shattered, sometimes total chaos follows.
We can’t always fully plan for emergencies, but we can keep our households, finances and emotions in order well enough — so that if, or when a radical emergency approaches, we can handle it.
Emergency readiness: here’s some emergency preparedness questions. You can add your own as well.
You might not be a back-to-the-lander or a fully committed survivalist, but anything you can do to prepare for life’s disruptions can help your stress level.
1, Tenants: is your lease payment up to date? Better yet, do you have any advance payment cushion?
2, Homeowners: is your property insurance paid and current? Do the valuations adequately cover damage? Read through your policy carefully.
3, Vehicle breakdowns and accidents: do you know what your insurance covers? If not adequate, would you have enough spare cash to put your transportation back on the road? Do you have alternate transportation available?
4, If you are injured, seriously ill and laid-up, out-of-work for an extended period, does your employer offer disability coverage?
5, If no disability coverage, can your spouse/partner carry household costs alone?
6, How would you manage if you are single / unattached without long-term assets to cover expenses?
7, Do you understand your complete health insurance package?
8, If you were made redundant, do you have the resources to self-fund your health insurance and cover living expenses?
9, If your marital or close relationship collapsed due to separation, divorce, or death, can you manage financially alone?
10, What’s your pantry situation? Do you have enough non-perishable food staples, non-perishable to last more than several weeks without grocery store access?
Finally, cash is still king!
11, Do you have an emergency cash cushion? If so, how long would it last before you needed to draw on other assets, or worst-case scenario, run up a credit card balance?
Readers, I implore you — as a finance journalist for more than 25 years, if you do not have an emergency cash fund set up, please, please start one as soon as you can.
Be prepared, protect yourself and your family, stay healthy.
Stay focused on your life goals. And take a deep breath, it will get better.
For motivation — please Listen to the Olderhood Radio Podcast, “Starting a short-term savings plan cash cushion!” on The Royal Gazette website (https://tinyurl.com/sn4f2mx)
• Martha Harris Myron CPA CFP JSM: Masters of Law — international tax and financial services. Dual citizen: Bermudian/US. Pondstraddler Life, financial perspectives for Bermuda islanders and their globally mobile connections on the Great Atlantic Pond. Contact: email@example.com
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