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Out of the predictions business. But still hugely optimistic for us all

So much for the depression.

I can’t get an appointment with our local AC guy for two weeks.

I’ve been waiting on our path/road guy for more than a month.

My electrician, my painter and my stucco tradees (as they’re called in Australia) have all disappeared.

There’s no sense in asking anyone for an estimate. No one has time for them.

They’re overwhelmed with work.

And … all this, despite that I pay my bills! And on time, too.

Jamie Dimon sees “pretty good odds” of a fast economic rebound starting in the third quarter thanks to the U.S. government’s stimulus programs and the strength of the consumer going into the pandemic.

Andrew Cuomo talked this week about his virus predictions. “They were all wrong.”

“As of this morning, I’m out of the predictions business.”

Dan Good, my favorite retired investment banker, says “No fast recovery unless we:

1. Get people back to work fast
2. Consumers start spending
3. We have a vaccine at least for limited use.”

Warren Buffett, the world best investor, dumped his big 4 airline stocks (AAL, DAL, UAL and LUV)  in April. They’ve already recovered a little from the sell-off he sparked.

Seeking answers, I went back to a 1977 book by my favorite economist.


In it, he wrote about Adam Smith’s famous 1776 book:

Wrote Galbraith on Smith’s book,

The wealth of a nation results from the diligent pursuit by each of its citizens of his own interests when he reaps the resulting reward or suffers any resulting penalties. In serving his own interests, the individual serves the public interest. In Smith’s greatest phrase, he is guided to do so as though by an invisible hand.

Better the invisible hand than the visible, inept and predacious –meaning predatory, rapacious — hand of the state.

That pretty well sums it all up: We and the economy will recover from this virus. We just don’t know when.

One friend has gone 90% to cash. Another has bought ultra-long puts on the S&P500 which he’ll cash out for zillions come the stockmarket crash he’s predicting for November.

Meantime today is emblematic of the uncertainty. We crashed this morning then bounced back. I don’t know why we crashed, nor why we bounced back. But I’m happy we bounced back. I was very depressed this morning.

Like Cuomo, I’m out of the predictions business. I am holding onto stocks that seem to be working — AAPL, SHOP, GOOG, TTD, BABA, FB, JNJ, UNH, SQ, NFLX, LLY, CSCO and the nice safe VTI ETF from Vanguard.

Three ways to check your virus health

1. Symptoms. Check CDC here.

2. Temperature. Buy a thermometer from Amazon.

3. Oxygen level. Buy a Pulse Oximeter. If your oxygen is under 80%, see a doctor. For the one we have, click here.

How to look better on Zoom, etc.

+ Stay back. Your laptop or iPad camera can’t focus closely. You look stupid (and unconvincing) out of focus.

+ Decent lighting. Don’t sit in front of a window. Back lighting is not good. Get some incandescent light. The more light, the better.

+ A fast Internet speed — at least 100 megabits per second.

+ Tell everyone to mute.

+ A decent microphone makes a huge difference to how well you sound. Get one.

For more tips,  click here.

Is paper dead?

A wonderful Israeli advertisement.

The prediction business

Delphi, a town in Greece, once made an industry out of selling predictions. An early Silicon Valley, without the AI. If the oracles got it wrong, they occasionally lost their lives. The business of being an oracle was very profitable, while it lasted.

Yesterday was our 73rd.

This morning was our 74th consecutive day of playing tennis during this pandemic. We missed one day because Susan and I had to rush back to the city. It’s getting hot. Tomorrow we start at 7:30 AM.

Four favorite (and spot-on) New Yorker cartoons

I got the AC working — all by myself. Yipee.

Rule: Never let a tradee leave without showing you all the keys to fixing your own stuff.

I’ll try to see you tomorrow — Harry Newton