It was eighteen months ago now that we first starting hearing about a growing flu pandemic in the Chinese province of Wuhan.  Back then, with the stock market at all-time highs and the economy humming along, few were paying attention to this situation in an isolated place so far away.  A month later, after cases starting multiplying in South Korea, Italy, Britain and then the west coast of the U.S., investors started paying attention.  Economic shutdowns across the globe put the problem front and centre, resulting in the fastest 30% decline in the stock market on record and then the worst economic collapse since the 1930s, though self-imposed this time around.  I recall fielding calls from friends, some of whom I had known for decades and who had never asked me any questions about the stock market, wondering if they should be getting out of the market rather than watching their retirement plans deteriorate further.  While I suggested that such periods of panic are always better times to try to ‘stay the course’ and look for buying opportunities, I clearly under-estimated and could never have envisioned a situation where the stock market would blow through all-time highs in such a short period of time, especially if I was told at that time that the virus would still have parts of the economy shut down eighteen months later! (more…)