Vaccinenomics and eating soup with a fork

The daily grind of working and living in a world at risk of the next wave of infections certainly tests one’s ability to push through the tedium. I remember a meeting with a client of mine a few years ago, discussing a new product he was distributing that – at least to my mind – looked like a sure-fire success. But to which he responded, “It’s a lot like eating soup with a fork…”

When talking to people now I am reminded of that discussion – every one of us is having to put in an inordinate amount of energy just to keep the gears turning. And while there is undoubtedly business to be done and profits to be made, it is the sheer amount of effort required that appears to be the fuel to the fire of discontent, despair and downheartedness that is so rife.

In what was his 5th State of the Nation Address last night, President Ramaphosa set out the priority goals for the year to come. Although many of these have been unfulfilled promises of previous years, the principle challenge of defeating the Coronavirus pandemic is the single most important. Until the world has the virus under control, any recovery in the economy, trade, and industry remains temporary. The recent rise of the term ‘Vaccinenomics’, although absent from the SONA itself, is now the focal point of markets – the countries that are able to procure, distribute, and vaccinate the fastest will be the economic winners in the years to come.

Over the past few months, as evidence has emerged that the vaccines in circulation are (mostly) proving effective, markets have responded positively with most major indices trading at all-time record levels in early February. The accommodative stance of Central Banks has provided much-needed interest relief to stretched and strained consumers the world over – and this looks set to remain for the coming quarters.

With all of us knowing someone who has lost a loved one to this terrible virus, we know the behavior of the COVID-19 virus is unpredictable, unrelenting, and incorrigible. But as we approach the 1-year mark of South Africa’s first case, we can draw encouragement and hope from the tenacity of the human spirit that has risen up over these past 12 months and enabled us to reach this point, with the growing hope that we can defeat COVID-19 and move forward.

To quote Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon, in his letter to employees a week ago announcing his intention to step down later this year, we must always move forward:

“Keep Inventing, and don’t despair when at first the idea looks crazy. Remember to wander. Let curiosity be your compass. It remains Day 1”

We will win this war!

Wishing you and yours a healthy and safe weekend ahead, and only success in the months ahead.

Steve Crouse

Chief Investment Officer and Senior Advisor