"Momentous: New York and California open."
And with that headline the impossible has been achieved: two huge, most hard-hit states, are removing the obstacles to normal life.
I think the unreality of this simply isn't appreciated. You need to go back to the dark days of last year to realize how incredibly amazing this all is.
The classic case? An article in the New York Times by a fellow named Michael Steinberger that appeared in the May 26 edition of the New York Times Magazine, castigating me near the absolute bottom at the beginning of March for saying it was time to buy, which, to him was a ridiculous call. In an article entitled "What is the Stock Market Even for Anymore," he wrote that his "skepticism only grew when I saw Jim Cramer - yeah he's still around - on CNBC saying that bears like me were 'betting against science' and basically selling the country short...."
He wrote that my belief reminded him of "a comment that called to mind Otter's student court peroration in Animal House."
OK, other than the gratuitous reference to Otter in what is one of the funnier non-Belushi scenes in that terrific flick, parsing this comment says it all. The writer's thesis was that only a stooge like me would actually believe that the drug companies could conceivably lick COVID-19. I also believed in recommending that people buy stocks, which, to the writer was a total absurdity.
His view, however, other than, I hope, the idea that I am still around, was completely and utterly wrong. Science did triumph. It was a fabulous time to buy because the stock market, nor the real economy, reflect that impossibility. It made more sense to short the country, so said Michael Steinberger - is he still around? - because of the absurd, Otter-like logic that any of our companies could do anything against the scourge.
But me? I had actually done some homework about Moderna (MRNA) , interviewed the CEO, Stephane Bancel, several times, and recognized that his company had the technical abilities to crack the code, not much different than the way a safecracker can crack a safe, except there would be billions of permutations, but that still would not be a problem. I had talked to Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) which assured me that COVID could be beaten in scale in time to save billions of peoples' lives, and I had interviewed a confident Regeneron (REGN) about how it had something to get you out of the hospital quickly. They all said the same thing, do not give up on us. We are working around the clock with the smartest minds in the world and the best tools and, perhaps more important, computers with incredibly high speed chips to beat this thing.
Can you imagine if you had actually shorted these stocks, especially Moderna, which, indeed, as promised was first to crack the code? With that list of companies and technology firms like Nvdia (NVDA) , behind them, you truly were betting against America.
Why is this important besides my vindication? Because the conventional wisdom expressed here is a big reason why we have so many problems with inflation and supply chain interruptions. Our companies' CEOs, schooled in the Great Recession, knew one thing when it comes to a downturn: Try to dial back business as quickly as possible lest you be caught with too much product or inventory when the country dives into a deep recession. But the combination of the drug companies and the policy makers like the Fed Chief and the Treasury Secretary didn't let it happen, still one more group that the writer was betting against that truly is the country, the federal government.
So many people were laid off and switched jobs or locations or got sick and left the work force or got extra employment benefits that we have shortages all over the place. But it makes so much sense when you consider I was so easily ridiculed for being positive, even as all I did was speak to every major drug company and the treasury secretary on a regular basis.
No, I am not the self-aggrandizing Otter. I am simply someone, though, who believes in science, believes in all of the smart people at the drug companies who worked tirelessly to stop COVID-19, and the country that got through it all. So easy for the cynics in the press to ridicule, but in the end, 14,000 Dow points later I am, indeed, still around.