I usually blog more about investing, but my life is getting so affected by the virus that I feel that its worth the write about. For those just interesting in investing, skip to chapter 5.
Some background: I live in Belgium, my sister is a doctor and I am travelling for work every day.
Since the virus started in January I saw the numbers multiply by 10 every few weeks. It was only a matter of time before the virus hit Europe.
What worries me is how fast everything is moving. What seemed like a joke or impossible one week ago is turning into a reality just one week later.
Governments are slow at taking action as they want to be convinced that the public opinion believes the virus is serious enough before they do. This lead to total lockdown in countries like Italy and China. I know I will be on the extreme side of things when I feel that the government should take a stronger action in the very short run, but I feel that its only a matter of time (at least in Western Europe) before they will be forced to do so. Spain has been quite lacks and as a result their healthcare system is about to collapse. In any case, be it now or in two weeks, stronger measures will need to be taken.
Two points to note:
- I live in Belgium, although I see the same things happening all over Western Europe. I still wonder if the numbers are low in some countries is it because they have no infected or because they do not test?
- I know the virus is called Covid-19, but still I will use Corona as this is the name everyone on the street is using.
#1 Getting more informed
My sister is a doctor and she sends out updates and how the virus behaves. A few bulletpoints:
- She lives in a small city in a rural area and there they had got their first infected this week
- The virus can survive on an object for another 2-9 days!
- In the mild version the first symptom is fever, then for perhaps 2 weeks a tickling cough
- I found out that people who have Asthma have a 6% chance of dying when they get the virus. And guess what.. I do!
- Probably you know about washing hands by now, but I realized its sooo important right now
- The Corona virus is on wet particles from someone coughing for example, and can get to you when you touch them and then touch your face
#2 In my personal life
I have changed my behavior for sure to lower the odds I get infected.
- I wash my hands more often right now, I used to go out to shop and return and not wash my hands after. Now the first thing when I arrive home is wash my hands. I wash my handles not only when I go to the bathroom but also before and after dinner (when eating out – as long as I still eat out that is).
- I stopped taking public transport unless I have no alternative, and started biking to work, something I do not mind at all
- I try not to touch my face at all when Im out
- I noticed that I do buy a bit of extra long term food and non – foods when Im out shopping. Nothing extreme but things I will need anyway sooner or later such as pasta & sauce for example.
- For long distances I used to go by train, now I more often take the car. I really hate sitting in a car for 5 hours but I will have to for the time being
- I have a few hobby’s I do from time to time: mountainbiking, spinning, bouldering, dancing, some of these I am reconsidering. Just yesterday I decided to skip bouldering. This feels like a terrible sacrifice!
- My mom has actually been avoiding me, and perhaps it is the best decision of her. She is 70 by now so she is in a high risk group
- My sister is a doctor so she is in a high risk group, last weekend we went spinning together, I am unsure if we will repeat this this week
#3 At work
I never told much about my work on this blog but I can say that the Corona virus has a huge impact on me. I am a consultant but most of my customers are abroad. This means I am almost fulltime travelling.
- Just last month I spend 7 days in Tel Aviv, this week I hear they are quarantining everyone who comes in for 14 days. My work license has not expired yet for Tel Aviv and I was considering to return in April. I guess I can forget about that..
- My biggest customer has announced they will be working with two teams. Every other week my team needs to work from home. This week it was my turn and I had to spend it at home. My colleagues who I hang out with in the evening are in a different group and thought it was safer not to see eachother
- Social isolation is currently quite worrying. Im not used to working at home for longer then a day, and I am not at all used to sitting at home in the evening. Especially with having to give up on my hobbies, even temporary..
- I’ve planned to go to London in 10 days. More and more are infected in the UK every day, and a lot can happen in 10 days. I am wondering if it will go trough
- I get paid extra when I travel for work so I do feel it in my wallet when I am being “grounded”
#4 Personal travel
I can still remember how one week ago I noticed how cheap tickets to Ireland were. This week I think I will rather not do any travelling at all. I think Airports might be high risk zones, and airplanes are just as dangerous. If one person in an airplane is infected he might be contaminating a few other people on the plane. At the same time the odds are still really low this is actually the case.
Another risk is that there is an outbreak in the country that you go and that you end up having to go in quarantine, its still rare and the odds are low, but it does happen.
I think I rather take some holiday in Belgium for the time being. The Belgium sea has the most beautiful beaches in Western Europe, and the Ardennes are a beautiful piece of nature.
#5 In my investments
With all these things already affecting me my investments are the least of my concern. Stocks have seen the steepest drop in probably as long as I am alive in the smallest possible period. My new shiny ETFs have been desimated and dropped over 20%.
I have seen a few market crashes by now and I am positive this one will also come to an end. In previous market turmoil stocks recovered after 1 year 50% of the time and 80% recovered after 4 years.
Its not easy to invest in a bear market. When there is a bull market its much easier. Every month you see your investments grow and you get confirmation what a great and brilliant investor you are. In a bear market every month you invest and you see your portfolio drop further.
“Every investor is told to buy low and sell high. But most don’t realize that buy low typically works out to buy low, then buy lower, then buy even lower, and once you really hate yourself, buy lower than you thought was possible.” – by @awealthofcs
I do see opportunities, the market is cheaper then 1 year ago while most companies have not changed that much. I am also still invested in the money market and in peer to peer so these give me extra leverage to invest a little bit more then I usually do so I could recover my losses faster.
I will not invest much more then usual for now, since until we know the full extend of the Corona virus I am sure markets will not know any kind of decent rise. For now I plan to invest more in my trusty SPDR MSCI World UCITS ETF at the end of the month, even if it performed horribly so far but it will bounce back eventually.
As you know I am also looking for a house and I am very puzzled what effects the Corona virus could have on the housing market:
- If things take a turn for the worse people might actually lose their jobs, we are actually already seeing this in highly affected sectors such as tourism and airlines
- Will people avoid checking out houses as that could expose them to the virus more?
- Then again with the stock market in free fall people might flee to more safer markets, such as the housing market
- At least the central bank will not be increasing the interest rates for loans, so taking loans will remain to be cheap
I believe at the very least we will see prices stabilize, but time will show
Follow me if you are interested to see how much further my portfolio will crash before I hit rock bottom!