Stock prices are hitting all-time highs on a daily basis as investors rejoice at the prospect of an economic recovery in 2021. Meanwhile, the rest of us are preparing for a second (and possibly sustained) lockdown that would include the shuttering of all “non-essential” businesses and public schools, along with mandatory quarantines.
As COVID caseloads surge, some states have already ordered most businesses to close. Three states, including California, have stay-at-home orders in effect. If the health care system becomes completely overwhelmed, the Centers for Disease Control could even impose blockades at state border crossings to keep possible infection spread contained.
And just like last spring, consumers are panic-hoarding grocery store staples like toilet paper and canned goods. Ammunition is again in short supply.
To boost the economy out of what’s become the worst economic downturn since the 1930s, Congress and the Federal Reserve have made massive financial interventions. The major beneficiaries, as usual, have been hedge funds and politically influential corporations.
These enormous financial injections have also spurred inflation. The “official” inflation rate, as measured by the heavily manipulated Consumer Price Index, is only 1.2%. But the real inflation rate is much higher. Measured in terms of the cost to purchase a fixed basket of goods and services, it’s running at 10% per year.
Meanwhile, federal debt is climbing at the fastest rate in history. During fiscal year 2020, which ended September 30, America’s federal debt rose by an estimated $3.3 trillion. Total federal debt is now approaching $27 trillion – one-third higher than it was when President Trump took office in 2017. Not surprisingly, the dollar has fallen more than 10% against America’s largest trading partners.
In the privacy, asset protection, and offshore beat we cover here at Nestmann, COVID has scrambled matters completely. More countries than ever are rolling out the welcome mat to self-sufficient migrants and opening their doors to a broader investment base. But many other nations have closed their borders to non-essential travel. Public health measures imposed to fight the pandemic have escalated government surveillance to new heights.
A world with emerging new opportunities is bubbling up from this toxic stew of COVID, a disputed presidential election, and political polarization. A question we get a lot these days is, “What should I do…right now?”
The particular answer obviously varies depending on individual circumstances, but in all cases, the solution involves building personal resiliency and becoming anti-fragile.
For instance, building travel resiliency requires possession of at least one valid passport so you can cross international borders. So one answer to this question might be, “Make sure your passport is up to date.” That suggestion gained renewed importance after US passport offices were closed for several months