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Panic 2020

From Lee Sherbakoff, The Nalls Sherbakoff Group, LLC.

Dear friends,

Yesterday – March 9 – was the eleventh anniversary of the climax of global panic that marked the bottom of the Global Financial Crisis bear market of 2007-09. On March 9, 2009, the S&P 500 closed at a value 677. Yesterday, it closed at a level of 2,747, down over 18% from its all-time high, recorded on February 19, 2020, at 3,386.

It is quite ironic that the world has elected to celebrate this iconic anniversary with – you guessed it – another epic global panic attack.

Declines of that magnitude are fairly common occurrences – indeed the average annual drawdown from a peak to a trough since 1980 is close to 14%.* But such a decline in barely a month is noteworthy, not for its depth but for its suddenness.

As we all know by now with the benefit of hindsight, the procuring cause of this decline have been (a) the outbreak of a new strain of virus, the extent of which can’t be predicted, (b) the economic impact of that outbreak, which is equally unknown, and (c) most recently, the onset of a price war in oil. (That last one is surely a problem for everyone involved in the production of oil, but it’s a boon to those of us who consume it.)

The common thread here is unknowability: we simply don’t know where, when or how these phenomena will play out. And in our experience, the thing in this world that markets hate and fear the most is uncertainty. We have no control over the uncertainty; we can and should have perfect control over how we respond to it.

Or, ideally, how we don’t respond. Because the last thing in the world that long-term, goal-focused investors like us do when the whole world is selling is – you guessed it again – sell.

On March 3, the scholarly billionaire investor Howard Marks wrote, “It would be a lot to accept that the US business world – and the cash flows it will produce in the future – are worth 13% less today than they were on February 19.” How much more true this observation must be a week later, when they’re down nearly 19%.

Be of good cheer. This too shall pass.


The Nalls Sherbakoff Group, LLC

*JP Morgan Asset Management’s Guide to the Markets, page 13

DISCLOSURES: The information provided in this letter is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product, and should not be construed as investment, legal, or tax advice. The Nalls Sherbakoff Group, LLC makes no warranties with regard to the information or results obtained by third parties and its use and disclaim any liability arising out of, or reliance on the information. These indexes reflect investments for a limited period of time and do not reflect performance in different economic or market cycles and are not intended to reflect the actual outcomes of any client of The Nalls Sherbakoff Group, LLC. Past performance does not guarantee future results.