The Independent Market Observer

Economy Making the Best of a Difficult Situation

Posted by Brad McMillan, CFA®, CFP®

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This entry was posted on Oct 27, 2021 2:16:19 PM

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economyIt’s another day of travel for me, as I head to Atlanta to host a National Conference watch party for Commonwealth. Gathering together in Las Vegas, as we had originally planned for our National Conference, was simply too risky. Between full hospitals, the inability to host outdoor events, and the fact that there would be thousands of non-Commonwealth guests in our hotel, it simply didn’t make sense to have everyone take those risks.


Leaving Las Vegas

Unfortunately, for all those reasons, we did have to cancel the big get-together. But we didn’t want to do a completely virtual event either. The answer was simply to do as much as we could, getting together in smaller groups in safer venues around the country, doing it outdoors where possible, and otherwise being as COVID safe as we can. It’s not Las Vegas, but it’s not nothing either. Even though I can’t see everyone this year, I am looking forward to having fun with the friends I know who are coming to this watch party, as well as meeting those I don’t. This is a great example of Commonwealth doing its best under difficult circumstances to both serve and protect everyone. Just because it won’t be perfect doesn’t mean it can’t be great.


As I think about it, this is also a fitting metaphor for what is going on in the economy as a whole. There are real constraints out there: the pandemic, supply chain issues, labor shortages, and inflation. Those issues can’t and shouldn’t be ignored. When we look at our business decisions and our investments, we need to take those into account. We are not, as a country, going to Las Vegas this year.


The Flip Side

But what we are doing, in many ways, is doing as much as we can without heading to Vegas. I mentioned the constraints above, but let’s also think about the good news. Millions of people have gotten large raises as wage growth has spiked. While millions of people are not working, it is because they are choosing not to do so—and they have the ability to make that choice. Interest rates may rise due to inflation, but right now the housing market is booming as those low rates make mortgages affordable. Yes, there are supply chain shortages, but those shortages are driven by strong demand as consumers look to buy, buy, buy. And yes, the pandemic is still very much here. But the reason we got the Delta wave was that the economy remained open. Plus, the pandemic is now getting better.


In other words, the U.S. economy is doing what it always does: adapt and make the best of any situation. Even as the pandemic continues, it has kept growing.


The flip side of each of the constraints we see is something that looks like, if you squint a bit, a boom. I don’t want to go there, but just as we need to acknowledge the constraints, we also need to acknowledge the good news. We are not going to Las Vegas, but we are going to Atlanta (in my case), Seattle (in the case of my friend, Brian Price), and to other cities with my other colleagues. We’re also hosting a big but safe get-together for the New England crew at Fenway Park in Boston. It’s not Las Vegas, but it’s still great and perhaps, in some ways, better

And that is what I hope and expect for these National watch parties. It’s not Las Vegas, but it will be great and maybe even better in some respects. For the economy, it’s not the economy we want necessarily, but the one we have has a number of good points. For everyone headed to a watch party, I would say you won’t be on the Strip this week, but I am sure you will have a good time. Have fun!

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