We all know COVID – 19 has left devastation in its wake. Thanks to a lot of great initiatives from the private and public sectors, that wake’s effects have been lessened, but the ripples are still pulsating through the world economy. To better understand the repercussions of these waves, we spoke with Dean Fergie from Cyan Investment.
Back in January, when the world was still open, I was sitting behind the front desk of the Cluster reception reading about some virus that has taken over regions of China. It was tragic, but foreign and therefore not something I put much credence in. Although it was a comment from Dean (aka Fergie) that made me realize that this wasn’t just China’s issue, it was soon becoming everyone’s.
The comment wasn’t anything too dire, just a simple, “corona is making things hard at the moment” to a typical, “how’s it going for you?”. It was the first time I had heard anyone in the office mention the virus directly effecting their business. When I relayed this to Fergie he was a little surprised to hear he was the first, but then mentioned that because he’s an investment manager, any changes to the stock market they feel immediately. He then mused that the stock market is like a “proactive forward-looking machine”, a way of economically predicting the future. I couldn’t help but imagine the field day Nostradamus would have had if he were a stockbroker!
It was thanks to this machine’s foresight, that when the signs came from China’s faltering supply chain, he knew things weren’t going to get better anytime soon. This was before the COVID infection even reached western shores. Although when you think about how much the world relies on Chinese products – I can list three things I’m currently wearing that were made there – it’s easy to comprehend the county’s economic effect on the world.
That was January though, and a lot has changed in a few months! No one expected the spread to be this fast or vast (guess the machine can only see so much) and big sections of commerce have fallen. Tourism and hospitality are obviously taking the biggest beatings, but as all the isolated go online, so does the stock market. Things like e-commerce and retailers are stronger than before, “If you go on JB-Hifi’s website, everything to do with home working or entertainment is sold out!” Fergie mentions and is something I can attest to having recently tried to purchase a Playstation from them. Cashconverters came through in the end, don’t worry!
Online education is also growing rapidly in this climate, many are using this time to better themselves and learn new skills, or at least pay for a course that promises as much and then never actually view it. Either way, money in the pocket of the creators!
I asked Fergie if there were any sectors he’d recommend investing in, to which he replied, “online educational businesses and Telecommunications are interesting”. Book a consultation to find out more!
Although what will the consultation look like? Probably a zoom call, like most everything these days. “The business community was unaware how well zoom works,” and when this pandemic is just pages in history books “face to face meetings will come back, but not the same way”. Fergie explains that because telecommunications have proven themselves cost effective and efficient, more international business will rely on them. No longer will lounges of airports be full with suits on laptops prepping for far flung meetings, they’ll instead beat home prepping with button upped shirts tucked into sweatpants! This “virtual regime has improved the game” he says and then elaborates, “it’s given the opportunity for a high quantity of meetings” which for a company like Cyan, means being able to explore many more investment opportunities and meet with more potential clients.
What about the quality though, can you really get a full sense of a person through pixels on a screen? Fergie admits, he’ll definitely miss the more subtle cues things like body behaviour can reveal, but for him that’s only about 10% of the equation.
I forgot to ask him if all these predictions were his own or coming from the machine? I took them as his own.
How does the machine work? The stock market is famously volatile and changes its mind week by week. Fergie explains it has, “the wisdom of crowds” and offered the analogy of a Country Fair with one of those “guess how many jellybeans are in the jar” type competitions. Individually, guesses may vary drastically, but when averaged out they usually fall very close to the truth.
That average now shows that the economy will rebound, but perhaps not as bright as before. A few key factors are still in flux, the biggest being if the world relapses into a second wave of infection and quarantine lasts longer. It happened in Singapore when they jumped the gun on reopening the city, it can happen elsewhere. Fergie didn’t seem too concerned though, “society is resilient, and the Government is doing a sensible job, but it can’t do it forever”. It may take up to two years to reach the heights we were at before the pandemic, a lot of that depending on when tourism reopens.
“I may be wrong” Fergie stipulates at the end, with a modesty not found in many fortunetellers.
I was surprised though when he reflected on this being a “good pause for the world”, a chance for us to slow down and humble ourselves from unnecessary excess and consumerism. “Take a breather for a week or two” he chuckles, “maybe you don’t need to keep buying those items from ASOS!” I find myself agreeing to an extent, when you look at how this pause has allowed the environment to heal from all the jumbo jets cutting through its atmosphere, how homely activities like gardening and elaborate cooking are on the rise, it’s not hard to imagine the world being a little more wholesome on the other end of this.
Who really knows though? For all of Fergie or the machine’s predictions, only time will truly tell what the global landscape will look like on the other side of isolation. Hopefully, a brave new world to explore!