The Week in Review: Coronavirus and our changing landscape

20 Mar 2020

Volatility in the markets has led to a deepening of investor and individual anxiety that is exacerbated by people being increasingly cut off from their support networks. But amid the chaos, the world is mobilising to protect the vulnerable and a new era of social understanding is emerging.

The stock market is experiencing more volatility than it did during the Financial Crisis, and is at its highest level ever recorded. This is according to the latest figures of the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index (VIX) or “fear gauge” that tracks the jitteriness of investors.
 
Each week Investec Wealth & Investment is bringing together experts from Investec and a variety of industries to filter the plethora of information on the markets and to focus on the psychological and neurological aspects of adapting to the new world we are living in. This week the panel, hosted by BBC’s Christian Fraser, considers markets and investing in the time of Covid-19. This week Christian is joined by:
 
 
As we bring you experts from around the world, you may experience some sound and video issues throughout the video, this is due to the demand on global bandwidth.

Key takeouts from the panel

As in life, the worst time to make an investment decision is when you’re highly stressed, says John Haynes. Rather take a breather and consider the facts.
 
One, we’ve just seen the first day since this novel coronavirus was identified where there were no new cases in China. While there’s a way to go, we at least know where we are going if the rest of the world follows the same pattern as China.
 
Two, central banks and governments are doing whatever they can to limit the damage and ensure that business and employment are not too badly affected.
 
• Covid-19 is challenging the three factors that are critical to our wellbeing: the joy of anticipation (with everything being cancelled), our sense of control and our need for social connection.
 
• While social distancing is the new norm, it is crucial to interact socially using the technology we have available, as alienation and isolation are primary causes of anxiety.
 
• The coronavirus is not unprecedented. Like in 1987, the market has been confronted with an event that unifies all the negatives in one go, with no time to process the positive. 
 
• This has resulted in a herd mentality amongst investors that will only subside once we have data that the virus is topping out and how long it will last.
 
• If the rest of the world follows the same trajectory as China, who reported their first day of zero new infections today, we are looking at a much more positive situation in 10 weeks’ time (the length of time China has battled the virus).
 
• The massive economic stabilisation packages being announced by the US, UK and the EU are evidence that our financial systems are able to take up the challenges posed by the virus. 
 
• This virus comes at a time of massive polarisation with issues like Brexit, the US-China trade war etc - perhaps it will provide the social cohesion necessary to galvanise communities and countries.