The End of the Beginning?

by | Mar 27, 2020 | COVID-19, Investing

This Coronavirus crisis has been compared to war, and rightfully so.  Our people are under attack, and how well we fight may in large measure determine how long it takes to achieve victory and how many casualties we will suffer.  We had some important developments in the last few days, perhaps more reason for (very) cautious optimism even as New York gets worse.

It brings to mind a famous Churchill quote in 1942, after the critical allied victory at El Alamein in North Africa:

“This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

This was an eventful week.

This afternoon the House approved the Coronavirus stimulus bill (the CARES Act), sending it to the President for signature.  It is the largest such bill ever, and will affect people, businesses large and small, and the economy as a whole.  More will certainly be forthcoming on this in the days and weeks ahead.

This week saw three of the best consecutive days for U.S. equities ever, as the S&P 500 rose 17.6% from Tuesday to Thursday.[1]  Today has not been great, but not terrible either, although in this new normal of +/- 5% days, anything can happen in the last hour.  This may or may not be the end of the bear market–as Churchill would have said, it may only be the end of the beginning.  Even as we hope for the best, we have to be prepared for a rough ride.  Keep expectations realistic.

New York became the epicenter of the pandemic in the US, with fully half of the cases and more than 500 deaths already.  They are reporting that their hospitals are being overwhelmed.  They were slower than places like the Bay Area to take decisive steps to curb the spread, which may have allowed it to get out of control.[2]

Do we have two points of view on this?  Why would that be?

As we mentioned in a previous letter, there are people and mathematical models predicting utter catastrophe, and other predicting something much less impactful.

  • There is hopeful talk of drug treatments, innovative new design and manufacturing processes for critical medical equipment and supplies, and reports of some success (so far) in “flattening the curve” of the spread of the virus, so we do not have too many cases at one time.
  • We also have New York City, with the curve heading straight up and medical facilities struggling to cope.
  • And we have arguments over the math, the assumptions used in the models. Even modest changes in assumptions can make huge differences in forecast outcomes.

We will stop here; you have all the reading you could possibly want about this available 24/7, updated every 5 minutes.  Our thought in communicating with you today is to encourage you to stay safe and keep others safe – you know the drill by now.  And be patient as this develops–there is a lot more for us to learn in the weeks ahead.

Last quick point – what questions do you have for us?  We would like to record a Q&A session for you very soon, and we will first be soliciting your questions and thoughts.  We would love to hear about what concerns you most, and anything we can be doing to assist. Please email your questions to us here.


Roger Hewins

[1] Source: Morningstar, Inc.

[2] Allday, Erin. “New York State Has 10 Times The COVID-19 Cases California Has. Why?”. Sfchronicle.Com, 2020,

Team Hewins, LLC (“Team Hewins”) is an SEC registered investment adviser; however, such registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training and no inference to the contrary should be made. The information contained within this letter is for informational purposes only and should not be considered investment advice or a recommendation to buy or sell any types of securities. Past performance is not a guarantee of future returns. It should not be assumed that diversification protects a portfolio from loss or that the diversification in a portfolio will produce profitable results. The opinions stated herein are as of the date of this letter and are subject to change. The information contained within this letter is compiled from sources Team Hewins believes to be reliable, but we cannot guarantee accuracy. We provide this information with the understanding that we are not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or tax services. We recommend that all investors seek out the services of competent professionals in any of the aforementioned areas. For detailed information about our services and fees, please read our Form ADV Part 2A, which can be found at or you can call us and request a copy at (650) 620-3040.