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1st Quarter 2020 CIO Commentary

The Surreal Impacts of the Coronavirus
Because I didn’t read comic books growing up, and today still prefer non-fiction to fiction, it feels like I’m at a big disadvantage in understanding today’s surreal environment.  I might fare better if I had more experience in imagining plots to destroy people and economies with one fell swoop. Fortunately, TIFF’s investment team is a strong group of highly educated, hard-working people with different backgrounds, religions, beliefs, and ages.  In my 4+ years as TIFF’s Chief Investment Officer, this group has never worked as hard as they have in the last six weeks to understand the investment environment and opportunity set.  Today is not business as usual, it is business at a much faster pace, with much bigger rewards and penalties attached to each decision.

Three months ago, the world seemed relatively normal.  The U.S. was busy levying tariffs on many countries, friend and foe alike, our federal budget deficit was running at a little over a $1 trillion annual pace, stocks had just finished a strong 2019 on the heels of a poor 2018, folks made their semi-monthly pilgrimages to Costco for extra supplies, dinner out was a treat, and filling up the car with gas was a little bit painful.  Then everything changed.  Tom Brady threw a “pick-six” and the Patriots didn’t make the Super Bowl, interest rates on treasury bonds began to move lower, and China signed a trade pact with the U.S. to buy billions of dollars of our exports, while locking down Wuhan because of some virus.

This is an excerpt from a longer article. Please download the PDF to read more.
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