But will it be sustainable? Will peoples' habits revert to the way they were when it ends?
Those were the two "smart" questions to ask this summer when you looked at trends that shot past the charts into the atmosphere above. We heard it with the pantry stocks, or with the video game stocks, the hygiene stocks and all of the other markets that I said were new secular bulls but took nothing but heat over.
You know what never got asked though? How much better will things get when this thing gets out of control? How much more money will these companies make when things get worse?
The "sustainable" crowd, the doubters, were too clever by half. They misjudged the virus, they misjudged the people involved.
Consider these misconceptions.
First, we kept hearing from Dr. Fauci that the fall was going to be horrendous. Fauci, like it or not, got caught up in the debate with the president who asked that a crowd keep a secret that he was going to let Fauci go after he was re-elected. But you should never have been listening to Fauci to begin with because he had been discredited by the president. The person to listen to, the person who was right the whole way, was Dr. Gottlieb and he made it clear that things would get worse, not better. That, of course, was the right way to bet.
Second, the weapons we have against the disease are pathetic. A mask. Nobody wants to wear a mask. I get that. It's awful. Social distancing? Are you kidding me? What if your bosses don't believe in it? What if it can't be enforced? What if you take public transit? Contact trace? You trust the local government with your information? Americans would rather burn at the stake than tell the government that they are at a Walmart (WMT) . Testing? We will get to it when we get to it, we're trying aren't we? And if you have it so what? Yep, we Americans came up with something against the meager ways to stop it that even though, taken together, they work a la China, Singapore and Taiwan, they are doomed if taken separately.
Three, our rugged individualist style meant that you were either pro-American or anti-covid and never the twain shall meet. The obedient Asian folks aren't like us and there are countries, whole countries, who are just like us and have no covid so what's the point, not that those countries could be proven to be without covid, of course, or that they enforced their laws.
Four, the Democrats became the party of mask-wearing wimps who favored taking your job away through a lockdown. The Republicans became the party of no-national authority that decided it was a flu, no, safer than a flu, a rite of passage even for younger people. No one meant badly. But that's how it shook out. I know this. I have spent a considerable amount of time and given away a large amount of money to help engineer, via, a charity, a mask that would answer the objections of the mask haters and have been vilified endless in twitter for xprize.org/mask. It's unbelievable to me that public health got politicized. I never bought into the way we did the lockdowns. But that didn't matter, either.
Five, we had a contact trace method developed by Apple (AAPL) and Alphabet/Google (GOOGL) that was superior to anyone's but it died on the vine because it was too invasive. We had an app that could have greenlighted safety for 24 hours from an Abbott (ABT) ready antigen test that was considered accurate, but it required giving up your info. So it seems to have been stillborn.
Finally, no one on Wall Street seemed willing to contradict the "sustainability" theories but the public bettors, the ones who lived in the real world, bought Chipotle (CMG) or Roku (ROKU) or Peloton (PTON) and other obvious picks, and stayed with them maybe because they are stupid, as so many on Wall Street think, or maybe because they are smarter than Wall Streeters. You should know my view by now: it's the latter.
In retrospect it was so easy. You had to wager on the longevity of the illness - not the morality of it but the longevity of it because science can't work at warp speed and rowdy, western style democracy is uniquely ill-suited to fighting Covid-19. Maybe we will be better when Covid 2021 comes around. Sustainable? Ha. How about inevitable?