Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Ebola's Impact? If we're Lucky, Only 1% of GDP

Readers of this blog, all five of you, were alerted to the potential dangers of inbound Ebola on September 17th's post. As any financial farmer well knows, there are plagues and pestilence that strike every farmer's fields. The frustrating part of this unwelcome news that hit across the wires yesterday was that it was completely preventible; why this country is receiving flights from West Africa is beyond me.

From a portfolio perspective, 2 weeks ago was a great time to hedge out entire portfolios via either selling covered calls or buying puts. For now though, investors unhedged are in a bind; hedge out after 250 points, 500 points on the Dow? I suspect this will have ripple effects throughout the economy, particularly alarming is the seemingly uncoordinated response from the CDC and more importantly our political leaders.

My thoughts? Dig in, we're probably headed lower, and probably going to sustain across the board damage to the economy. Sectors which offer protection; not many, but your addictive, necessary, branded monopolies most likely offer the LEAST damage. Small Caps? Watch out, they are the most vulnerable with weaker balance sheets and dependent, traditionally, on discretionary spending. Upside? Not the airlines, travel industry, or restaurants. MAYBE niche pharmaceutical companies, especially those that can secure federal funding.

Dig in fellow financial farmers, I think this is the long-(un)awaited correction. The question on this one, though, in a Brave New World, what's the recovery timeline going to look like? For the time being, a full-hedged portfolio with plenty of cash on the sidelines is king.

Let's hope things don't deteriorate from here, but I'm not particularly impressed with our leadership's response or (lack of) planned path forward.