1) In my recent e-mails, I've been covering why I remain bullish on stocks, despite high valuations, rising speculation, and foolishness, supply chain woes, inflation, political polarization, etc.
In short, we're in the middle of the mother of all economic booms, fiscal stimulus is high, monetary stimulus is going through the roof, and investors' "animal spirits" are robust.
But one thing that could derail the markets is a resurgence of the pandemic, which could lead to a reimposition of lockdowns. That is what's happening in parts of Europe right now. Consider these headlines:
- 'Vaccinated, Recovered or Dead': Europe Fights Covid Wave — and Itself, New York Times
- German Business Confidence Slumps as Virus Threatens Rebound, Bloomberg
- Supply Shortages Are Easing in U.S. and Worsening in Europe, Bloomberg
- Covid-19 Surge Prompts Renewed Lockdown in Parts of Europe, Wall Street Journal
- New Covid-19 Restrictions Spark Protests Across Europe, Wall Street Journal
- Austria Becomes First in Europe to Impose Vaccine Mandate, Return to Lockdown, Wall Street Journal
Sure enough, cases are once again rising sharply in the U.S. – up 34% in the last 19 days (source):
So could we soon be following in Europe's footsteps?
I highly doubt it, for two main reasons:
a) I don't think the pandemic is going to return to crisis levels, for reasons I outlined in the e-mail that I sent this morning to my coronavirus e-mail list (to join it, simply send a blank email to: [email protected]).
b) I don't perceive any appetite here for a return to tighter restrictions.
Nearly all of the hospitalizations and deaths are among people who chose not to get vaccinated. At this point, rightly or wrongly, there's the general feeling among everyone else that some folks' misguided (and, sadly, often fatal) decisions shouldn't prevent the country from returning to normal.
2) I've been feeling a bit under the weather for the last week – a minor cough, sore throat, and nasal drip. I'm sure it's due to the aftermath of running 50 miles and doing nearly 200 obstacles (many involving going into cold water) at the 24-hour World's Toughest Mudder 10 days ago (see my Facebook posts about it here, here, and here). It probably also doesn't help that I've been playing tennis outdoors in 35-degree weather...
I thought odds were close to zero that I had COVID-19, given that I got the Moderna (MRNA) vaccine in February and March plus a booster three weeks ago. But just to be sure (and because we're going to be spending plenty of time indoors with family over Thanksgiving), my wife Susan bought me this home test kit at the local pharmacy (it only cost $25 for two tests):
I took the test and, sure enough, I got a negative result:
However, one friend e-mailed me this warning:
If you still feel under the weather, take the second test in a couple of days. Abbott's Binax test is best for determining when you are at peak infectious level, not necessarily if you have COVID-19.
We had a situation in my family where the first Binax test came back negative, but we also got a PCR test the same day. Two days later, the second Binax test was positive, and the PCR came back positive as well. That's why there are two tests in the box.
But there was fever involved in our situation, and it just sounds like you are run down.
This was echoed by two other friends, both doctors, who told me that home antigen tests could miss breakthrough COVID-19 cases and therefore recommended that I get a PCR test. So on Monday afternoon, I went to a local pharmacy and got a free PCR test (it only took 5 minutes), which also came back negative yesterday:
3) When it comes to the vaccines, my family and I don't just talk the talk – we walk the walk...
My wife got her booster on Monday (Moderna as well) and hasn't felt any symptoms at all:
One of our three daughters has already received her booster (no symptoms either), and the other two are getting theirs in the next few days.
I'm glad that we're all extra safe, but it's not like we were in any real danger given our ages, excellent health, and access to top-notch health care.
It saddens me that tens of millions of Americans at much greater risk are refusing to get even their initial vaccinations, much less a booster, even though they're free and widely available. It's these folks who have been badly misled by despicable political, media, or sports figures and/or the garbage they've read on social media who represent nearly all of the more than 1,000 Americans who are still dying every single day.
It is a horrifying stain on our nation that we currently rank 52nd in the world among the percentage of our population (70%) that has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 58th for the percentage of those who are fully vaccinated (59%) (source).
There have now been 7.8 billion doses administered in 184 countries. At what point will there be enough real-world data for the holdouts to stop thinking that the vaccines are too new/untested/unproven?
Again, for more on the pandemic and why I'm optimistic that the latest uptick in cases won't return us to crisis levels, click here to read the e-mail that I just sent to my coronavirus e-mail list (to join it, simply send a blank email to: [email protected]).
We're off tomorrow and Friday, so look for my next e-mail on Monday. I wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!
P.S. I welcome your feedback at [email protected].