A picture, as the saying goes, is worth 1,000 words. And the right pictures have the potential to generate more attention and interest about crisis situations than words alone ever could.
People can immediately grasp a story or message that is being told by a picture, illustration, video or other visuals. And, given their increasingly shorter attention spans, many people often don’t want to read about a crisis when a picture or short video on social media or a television newscast is all they think they need.
Christen Costa, CEO of Gadget Review, noted that, “Study after study has shown that humans respond far better to visuals than text alone. You can tell your story in text and have it ignored, misinterpreted, or used against you. Images are harder for people to ignore or willfully misinterpret. It’s important that the images you use are heavily vetted, however. You need to test them internally to be sure you’re saying exactly what you want to say.”
The challenge for business leaders who are managing a crisis for their companies and organizations is to find the best visuals to help show or tell their side of the story in an appropriate and attention-getting way.
Of course, if you don’t provide visuals for a crisis, don’t be surprised when news organizations or people on social media find and post their own. And news outlets, of course, can find the visuals that best illustrates the crisis — but which you might prefer not be seen for whatever reason.
Last Tuesday, ABC News reported that, “House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other lawmakers paid tribute to the more than 676,000 Americans who have died from Covid-19, [by] visiting a memorial on the National Mall that displays hundreds of thousands of small, white flags, one for each life lost.
“As we look at this work of art and see it fluttering in the breeze,” Pelosi said, “it really is an interpretation of the lives of these people waving to us to remember.” The lawmakers walked silently among the rows of flags, trails that stretch more than 3.8 miles, according to ABC News.
Earlier this week, motorists passing by the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC might have seen what appeared to be a submerged house near the Jefferson Memorial. According to Washingtonian.com, “Constructed out of wood and floating on pontoons, the hollow house was a warning from climate activists with Extinction Rebellion DC of what the city might face should unchecked climate change continue to contribute to rising sea levels.”
As is often the case with attention-getting visuals, more people likely saw news coverage or the YouTube video of the submerged “house” than saw the visual in-person.
In 2018, to call attention to the number of children that were killed since the Sandy Hook school shooting, 7,000 pairs of empty shoes were displayed outside the U.S. Capitol.
CNN reported that, “The global advocacy group Avaaz [had] been collecting donated pairs of shoes for two weeks and early Tuesday morning lined them up one by one, 18 inches apart, in roughly 80 rows on the Capitol lawn, as Congress continues to sort through a debate over gun violence and school safety.
“Shoes are individual. They’re so personal. There are ballet slippers here and roller skates. These are kids,” said Nell Greenberg, the campaign director for Avaaz.”
‘The Power Of A Visual Image’
Baruch Labunski, CEO of marketing agency Rank Secure, said, “I’m a marketing expert, but you don’t have to be one to be one to understand the power of a visual image.
“When businesses are communicating with the public during a crisis, optics—both figurative and literal — are everything. Companies in crisis need to project a stable, consistent image that’s coherent with their brand. And in cases of transgressions or when a company is correcting a mistake, a visual image that reflects an amended ideology may be appropriate and effective,” he noted.
Advice For Business Leaders
“Here’s my cautionary advice,” Lubunski said. “Be authentic. Putting pictures of trees on a plastic water bottle doesn’t make your company environmentally friendly. Putting minorities on stage at an event while your entire C-suite is white doesn’t make you genuinely diverse.
“Make sure the visual images you choose reflect the actual values of your company. If you need to make amends, do it for real, rather than just for show,” he advised.
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I had a budget on the day I looked up when my favorite outdoor venue would again open for concerts.Yes, I had a financial plan in place when I saw the words “Tame Impala rescheduled” and felt a memory flash of standing in a crowd listening to that same band, on that same stage.
Yes, though I have a financial accountability coach, I lost consciousness and came to 90 seconds later with a two-Tame-Impala-ticket-sized hole in my budget. Yes, I am concerned.
After this year of no — no festivals, no plays, no shopping in stores without concern for a deadly virus — “no you can’t” is slowly transforming, with 60 percent of adults in the US now having at least one dose of the vaccine, to “yes you can.” Many of us, regardless of disposable income levels, will and will and will, budgets be damned, if we don’t prepare for the powerful emotions about to swoop through our experience-deprived brains.
Our minds, it turns out, are not spreadsheets. That’s the idea behind behavioral economics, the fairly new field that studies how humans operate around this invention we call money. Unlike previous thinking from the field of economics, our decisions don’t come from formulas, but a mishmash of the feelings, reactions, and mental shortcuts whittled by evolution to keep us alive in the wild, within small tribes, without consideration for targeted Instagram ads for peep-toe espadrilles.
Behavioral economics has identified more than 100 ways people of all financial backgrounds fail to think straight when it comes to money. And as the pandemic shifts in the US, our thinking is about to get much blurrier. Our minds, it turns out, are not spreadsheets
One reigning factor that stands out as a determinant of how we behave is where we fall on the spectrum of cold state to hot state. Ever been hangry? That’s a hot state. Seen a thirst trap? Hot state. It’s when emotions like fear or exhaustion take over.
“What has been building up for a year and what is about to be released is an enormous amount of pressure,” said Brooke Struck, research director at the Decision Lab, a behavioral design think tank. “We are all about to enter a massive hot state, more or less at the same time.”
Hot states aren’t necessarily a bad thing. They can be, as Struck describes them, some of the richest experiences we have. They’re intense and powerful, and they exacerbate other biases. They reduce us to something less like adults and more like toddlers.
“If you think you can talk yourself out of a hot state,” said Struck, “you don’t understand a hot state.”
In Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking, Fast and Slow, he describes our cold, higher thinking as slow thinking, and the hot thinking I did (or didn’t do) before buying those tickets as fast thinking. They’re not discrete, explains Struck, but a wrestling match inside our brains.
“That’s where humanity lives. We’re all struggling with these two things at the same time, all the time,” he said. “So when you see those tickets, what comes to mind is this extremely vivid, positive memory of having been in that place and having that experience … you just have this overwhelming desire of I want.”
The tsunami of want that’s about to crash over us as the country reopens is going to be, as Struck says, very dangerous for our budgets. The hot states will strike intensely, perhaps set off by songs, smells, or the sight of a cafe where you used to meet up for lunch with the friends you haven’t hugged in a year. He talks about it as though we’re all about to get very drunk, and the only thing we can do is make sure we put away the sharp objects ahead of time.
A drunk person, for example, isn’t known to carefully consider the future repercussions of their actions. Similarly, hot states exacerbate our present bias, which makes us overvalue what we have now and devalue what that stranger known as us in the future will have, a trait familiar to anyone with vacation credit card debt.
If you think this doesn’t apply to you and you’ll be fine, that could be your restraint bias talking, the bias that makes you overestimate your ability to resist impulsive behavior. If you think that because you’ve been so good, perhaps by spending an entire year wearing your mask and forgoing public displays of Bon Jovi karaoke, you deserve to be a little bad now, that’s moral licensing. It’s the bias that serves as a little devil on your shoulder, convincing you you’re still doing good, even if you sin just a bit.
You might want to watch out for the bandwagon effect, where you jump into the Roaring Reopening spending just because all the cool kids are doing it, in your real friend group and in the groups you just watch on your social media feeds. Worse, there won’t be a designated financial driver among us, because though our experiences have varied widely, with many Americans continuing to work in public during lockdown, chances are that nearly everyone you know will have some kind of wild emotions about the opportunity to gather in a bar booth, enjoy a funny movie in a sea of IRL laughter, or dance in a laser-light crowd of fellow humans.
(Though of course, there will be some who are so traumatized by the last year that they’ll hold on to everything they have, the same way Nana saves the used Glad Press’n Seal bits because of how she was shaped by the Great Depression.) But we can work with these biases, says Amanda Clayman, financial therapist and host of Financial Therapy. We just have to understand them first. “With awareness comes an opportunity for self-agency,” she says.
Biases didn’t evolve to trip us up. They originally came about to help us. “Just the idea of a cognitive ‘bias,’ I think it’s a bit pejorative. It’s a shortcut. And when we call it a bias, it’s just us identifying where we consistently run into problems,” Clayman told me. “I think we should have as much affection and humor for these cognitive biases as we can.”
One of these mental shortcuts we can admire like a bumbling toddler is our availability bias: the illusion that the more we see something, the more likely it is to occur, and the less we see something, the scarcer it is. The scarcer we sense something is, the higher we value it.
“Our sense of availability has been really reset. You acted as if a concert ticket is completely scarce because your availability heuristic has been reset around when something is going to be an option,” said Clayman. “Our entire sense of what is available when and what is normal has been skewed by this experience.”
You know who has studied your biases? Marketers. And they know exactly where to poke them. Clayman adds that capitalist society trains us from an early age to think that if we have a negative feeling, we can find a product to fix it. We’re all going to be tempted to “solve” the trauma of the last year, as if a wild night at Target on the credit card could cheer us right up after living through a plague that’s killed more than 3 million people and continues to rage in many parts of the world.
She says that what we’ll really need is human connection, safe spaces to talk about what we’ve gone through, and the uncomfortable experience of sitting with our feelings. Without processing the emotions of the last year, we’ll just try to shovel fun, novelty, and pleasure into the pit, and the expense is going to add up before we realize it’s not working.
Natasha Knox, a certified financial planner and chair of business development for the Financial Therapy Association, says to listen for the moral licensing words, “I deserve it because …” It might be because you’ve been through so much or you’ve worked so hard.
“This sort of permission-giving has truth to it. It is true, collectively we have been through a lot and many people do work really hard,” said Knox. “You’re not wrong. You do deserve it. But then there’s future you. What does that person deserve?”
In order to reconnect and enjoy a bit more freedom while also protecting your future self, start setting aside some cash now that is, as Knox describes it, “safe to spend” without putting yourself in financial danger. Then create some cooling space between you and spending. Unsubscribe from all those sale emails. Turn off one-click pay. Don’t save your credit card in your web browser. Try to wait 24 hours before buying something unplanned. Most importantly, keep close the deeper reasons you don’t want to go financially wild (whatever that means to you) over the next few months, in addition to simply not causing yourself more stress and chaos.
“It really does have to boil down to that first, because if we’re just denying ourselves for no reason, that’s not sustainable and it usually doesn’t work,” said Knox. “The bigger why has to be front and center. Because it’s hard, and it’s been a terrible year.”
She recommends finding a photo that represents something you’re working toward getting a year to a few years out and making that your phone’s home screen or otherwise keeping it close. “When something has been as dramatic as this year, the longer-term picture gets a little fuzzy,” Knox said, “So we have to bring that back into focus.”
Like biases, spending itself is not a bad thing. I’m happy to support the venue, the band, and even, if they open in time, Scott and Cindi, the owners of the nearby private campground, whom I’ve been worried about because I watched their business grow for so many years. This is an inextricable truth: Our spending is part of what will alleviate the Covid-19-inflicted financial suffering of our fellow humans. Consumer spending constitutes about 70 percent of the GDP, after all. So I’ll spend, but, knowing what I know now, I’ll spend as slowly as I can, at places I care about, tentatively finding ways to enjoy the new normal, and without causing another crisis for myself.
Paulette Perhach writes about creativity, finances, tech, psychology, and anything else that inspires awe for places like the New York Times, Elle, and Glamour. She posts regularly at WelcomeToTheWritersLife.com.
Financial therapy merges finance with emotional support to help people cope with financial stress. Financial advisors must often provide therapy to clients in order to help them make logical monetary decisions and deal with any financial issues they might be facing.
Breaking Down Financial Therapy
Money plays a large role in a person’s overall well-being, and the stresses of managing money and dealing with financial pitfalls can take a huge toll on one’s emotional health. If left uncontrolled, this emotional burden can spread into other areas of a person’s life. Just as with any other form of therapy that addresses other aspects of a person’s life, financial therapy provides support and advice geared specifically toward the financial realm and the stresses that go along with it. The end goal is to get a person’s finances in order and provide the necessary advice to keep them in order.
Financial Therapy Reasoning
There are a range of reasons why a person would seek out or need financial therapy. In many cases, behavioral issues cause a person to adapt unhealthy financial routines, including unhealthy spending habits (such as gambling or compulsive shopping), overworking oneself to hoard money, completely avoiding financial issues that must be dealt with, or hiding finances from a partner. Often, bad saving, spending, or working habits are a symptom of other bad habits related to mental or physical health.
Financial Therapy vs. Other Types of Therapy
The most effective forms of financial therapy involve a collaboration between a person’s financial advisor and a licensed therapist or specialist. Both the financial advisor and the therapist have unique qualifications that the other does not possess. Because of this, it’s hard for one to provide complete financial therapy support, and trying to do so could potentially steer a person in the wrong direction and violate ethical codes. However, financial advisors often find themselves providing informal therapy to clients, and therapists often deal with emotional issues related to financial stress.
Financial advisors are well-versed on their clients’ specific situations and are able to advise on the best courses of action. They’re able to share their expertise in the hopes of alleviating the financial burdens their clients face. However, therapy is not a financial advisor’s area of expertise, and if a person requires real emotional support or needs help breaking bad habits, a licensed professional should be involved. The financial advisor tends to be more adept at providing advice on how best to move forward with financial issues, while the licensed professional can provide support that gets to the root of a deeper problem.
A wealth psychologist is a mental health professional who specializes in issues relating specifically to wealthy individuals. Issues can include feelings of guilt and raising children in a wealthy household.
Kianna Ameni-Melvin’s parents used to tell her that there wasn’t much money to be made in education. But it was easy enough for her to tune them out as she enrolled in an education studies program, with her mind set on teaching high school special education.
Then the coronavirus shut down her campus at Towson University in Maryland, and she sat home watching her twin brother, who has autism, as he struggled through online classes. She began to question how the profession’s low pay could impact the challenges of pandemic teaching.
She asked her classmates whether they, too, were considering other fields. Some of them were. Then she began researching roles with transferable skills, like human resources. “I didn’t want to start despising a career I had a passion for because of the salary,” Ms. Ameni-Melvin, 21, said.
Few professions have been more upended by the pandemic than teaching, as school districts have vacillated between in-person, remote and hybrid models of learning, leaving teachers concerned for their health and scrambling to do their jobs effectively.
For students considering a profession in turmoil, the disruptions have seeded doubts, which can be seen in declining enrollment numbers.
A survey by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education found that 19 percent of undergraduate-level and 11 percent of graduate-level teaching programs saw a significant drop in enrollment this year. And Teach for America, which recruits recent college graduates to teach in low-income schools across the country, said it had received fewer applications for its fall 2021 corps compared with this period last year.
During the pandemic, Kianna Ameni-Melvin started questioning her decision to become a teacher and began researching roles with transferable skills.Credit…Rosem Morton for The New York Times
Many program leaders believe enrollment fell because of the perceived hazards posed by in-person teaching and the difficulties of remote learning, combined with longstanding frustrations over low pay compared with professions that require similar levels of education. (The national average for a public-school teacher’s salary is roughly $61,000.) Some are hopeful that enrollment will return to its prepandemic level as vaccines roll out and schools resume in-person learning.
But the challenges in teacher recruitment and retention run deeper: The number of education degrees conferred by American colleges and universities dropped by 22 percent between 2006 and 2019, despite an overall increase in U.S. university graduates, stoking concerns about a future teacher shortage.
For some young people, doubts about entering the teaching work force amid the pandemic are straightforward: They fear that the job now entails increased risk.
Nicole Blagsvedt, an education major at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, felt a jolt of anxiety when she began her classroom training in a local public school that recently brought its students back for full in-person learning. After months of seeing only her roommates, moving around a classroom brimming with fourth and fifth graders was nerve-racking.
Ms. Blagsvedt’s role also encompassed new responsibilities: sanitizing fidget toys, enforcing mask use, coordinating the cleaning of the water bottles that students brought to school because they couldn’t use the water fountains. In her first week, she received a call from an office assistant informing her that one of her students had been exposed to Covid-19, and that she had to help shepherd the students out of the classroom so it could be disinfected.
“This panic crossed my mind,” she said. “I thought: This was what it’s going to be like now.”
Administrators running teacher preparation programs said the new anxieties were most likely scaring away some potential applicants. “People are weighing whether or not it makes sense to go to a classroom when there are alternatives that may seem safer,” said David J. Chard, dean of the Wheelock College of Education and Human Development at Boston University.
But for many students, the challenges posed by remote teaching can be just as steep. Those training in districts with virtual classes have had to adjust their expectations; while they might have pictured themselves holding students’ hands and forming deep relationships, they’re now finding themselves staring at faces on a Zoom grid instead.
“Being online is draining,” said Oscar Nollette-Patulski, who had started an education degree at the University of Michigan but is now considering swapping majors. “You have to like what you’re doing a lot more for it to translate on a computer. I’m wondering, if I don’t like doing this online that much, should I be getting a degree in it?”
In some instances, remote teaching has deprived education students of training opportunities altogether. At Portland State University in Oregon, some students were not able to get classroom placements while schools were operating remotely. Others were given only restricted access to student documents and academic histories because of privacy concerns.
Education programs were already struggling to recruit new students to the profession, long before the pandemic forced teachers to hold classes remotely.Credit…Benjamin Norman for The New York Times
At the university’s College of Education there was a decline in applications this year, which the dean, Marvin Lynn, attributed to students in the community hearing about the difficulties in training during the pandemic.
Applications may tick back up as schools return to in-person learning, Dr. Lynn said, but the challenges are likely to outlast this year. Educators have struggled with recruitment to the profession since long before the pandemic. In recent years, about 8 percent of public schoolteachers were leaving the work force annually, through retirement or attrition. National surveys of teachers have pointed to low compensation and poor working conditions as the causes of turnover.
The pandemic is likely to exacerbate attrition and burnout. In a recent national study of teachers by the RAND Corporation, one quarter of respondents said that they were likely to leave the profession before the end of the school year. Nearly half of public schoolteachers who stopped teaching after March 2020 but before their scheduled retirements did so because of Covid-19.
This attrition comes even as many schools are trying to add staff to handle reduced class sizes and to ensure compliance with Covid-19 safety protocols. Miguel A. Cardona, the secretary of education, recently called for financial help to reopen schools safely, which will allow them to bring on more employees so they can make their classes smaller. The Covid-19 relief package approved by President Biden includes $129 billion in funding for K-12 schools, which can be used to increase staff.
Not all teacher preparation programs are experiencing a decrease in interest. California State University in Long Beach saw enrollment climb 15 percent this year, according to the system’s preliminary data. Marquita Grenot-Scheyer, the assistant vice chancellor for the university system, attributes this partly to an executive order from Gov. Gavin Newsom, which temporarily allowed candidates to enter preparation programs without meeting basic skill requirements because of the state’s teacher shortage.
Teachers College at Columbia University in New York City also saw an increase in applications this year, according to a spokesman, who noted that teaching has historically been a “recession-proof profession” that sometimes attracts more young people in times of crisis.
Even some of those with doubts have chosen to stick with their plans. Ms. Ameni-Melvin, the Towson student, said she would continue her education program for now because she felt invested after three years there.
Maria Ízunza Barba also decided to put aside her doubts and started an education studies program at the Wheelock College of Education at Boston University last fall. Earlier in the pandemic, as she watched her parents, both teachers, stumble through the difficulties of preparing for remote class, she wondered: Was it too late to choose law school instead?
Ms. Ízunza Barba, 19, had promised to help her mother with any technical difficulties that arose during her first class, so she crawled under the desk, out of the students’ sight, and showed her mother which buttons to press in order to share her screen.
Then she watched her mother, anxious about holding the students’ attention, perform a Spanish song about economics.
Ms. Ízunza Barba said she realized then that there was no other career path that could prove as meaningful. “Seeing her make her students laugh made me realize how much a teacher can impact someone’s day,” she said. “I was like, whoa, that’s something I want to do.”
A year ago, as the pandemic ravaged country after country and economies shuddered, consumers were the ones panic-buying. Today, on the rebound, it’s companies furiously trying to stock up. Mattress producers to car manufacturers to aluminum foil makers are buying more material than they need to survive the breakneck speed at which demand for goods is recovering and assuage that primal fear of running out. The frenzy is pushing supply chains to the brink of seizing up. Shortages, transportation bottlenecks and price spikes are nearing the highest levels in recent memory, raising concern that a supercharged global economy will stoke inflation.
Copper, iron ore and steel. Corn, coffee, wheat and soybeans. Lumber, semiconductors, plastic and cardboard for packaging. The world is seemingly low on all of it. “You name it, and we have a shortage on it,” Tom Linebarger, chairman and chief executive of engine and generator manufacturer Cummins Inc., said on a call this month. Clients are “trying to get everything they can because they see high demand,” Jennifer Rumsey, the Columbus, Indiana-based company’s president, said.“They think it’s going to extend into next year.”
The difference between the big crunch of 2021 and past supply disruptions is the sheer magnitude of it, and the fact that there is — as far as anyone can tell — no clear end in sight. Big or small, few businesses are spared. Europe’s largest fleet of trucks, Girteka Logistics, says there’s been a struggle to find enough capacity. Monster Beverage Corp. of Corona, California, is dealing with an aluminum can scarcity. Hong Kong’s MOMAX Technology Ltd. is delaying production of a new product because of a dearth of semiconductors.
Further exacerbating the situation is an unusually long and growing list of calamities that have rocked commodities in recent months. A freak accident in the Suez Canal backed up global shipping in March. Drought has wreaked havoc upon agricultural crops. A deep freeze and mass blackout wiped out energy and petrochemicals operations across the central U.S. in February. Less than two weeks ago, hackers brought down the largest fuel pipeline in the U.S., driving gasoline prices above $3 a gallon for the first time since 2014. Now India’s massive Covid-19 outbreak is threatening its biggest ports.
For anyone who thinks it’s all going to end in a few months, consider the somewhat obscure U.S. economic indicator known as the Logistics Managers’ Index. The gauge is built on a monthly survey of corporate supply chiefs that asks where they see inventory, transportation and warehouse expenses — the three key components of managing supply chains — now and in 12 months. The current index is at its second-highest level in records dating back to 2016, and the future gauge shows little respite a year from now. The index has proven unnervingly accurate in the past, matching up with actual costs about 90% of the time.
To Zac Rogers, who helps compile the index as an assistant professor at Colorado State University’s College of Business, it’s a paradigm shift. In the past, those three areas were optimized for low costs and reliability. Today, with e-commerce demand soaring, warehouses have moved from the cheap outskirts of urban areas to prime parking garages downtown or vacant department-store space where deliveries can be made quickly, albeit with pricier real estate, labor and utilities.
Once viewed as liabilities before the pandemic, fatter inventories are in vogue. Transport costs, more volatile than the other two, won’t lighten up until demand does. “Essentially what people are telling us to expect is that it’s going to be hard to get supply up to a place where it matches demand,” Rogers said, “and because of that, we’re going to continue to see some price increases over the next 12 months.” More well-known barometers are starting to reflect the higher costs for households and companies. An index of U.S. consumer prices that excludes food and fuel jumped in April from a month earlier by the most since 1982. At the factory gate, the increase in prices charged by American producers was twice as large as economists expected. Unless companies pass that cost along to consumers and boost productivity, it’ll eat into their profit margins.
A growing chorus of observers are warning that inflation is bound to quicken. The threat has been enough to send tremors through world capitals, central banks, factories and supermarkets. The U.S. Federal Reserve is facing new questions about when it will hike rates to stave off inflation — and the perceived political risk already threatens to upset President Joe Biden’s spending plans.“You bring all of these factors in, and it’s an environment that’s ripe for significant inflation, with limited levers” for monetary authorities to pull, said David Landau, chief product officer at BluJay Solutions, a U.K.-based logistics software and services provider.
Policy makers, however, have laid out a number of reasons why they don’t expect inflationary pressures to get out of hand. Fed Governor Lael Brainard said recently that officials should be “patient through the transitory surge.” Among the reasons for calm: The big surges lately are partly blamed on skewed comparisons to the steep drops of a year ago, and many companies that have held the line on price hikes for years remain reticent about them now. What’s more, U.S. retail sales stalled in April after a sharp rise in the month earlier, and commodities prices have recently retreated from multi-year highs.
Caught in the crosscurrents is Dennis Wolkin, whose family has run a business making crib mattresses for three generations. Economic expansions are usually good for baby bed sales. But the extra demand means little without the key ingredient: foam padding. There has been a run on the kind of polyurethane foam Wolkin uses — in part because of the deep freeze across the U.S. South in February, and because of “companies over-ordering and trying to hoard what they can.”
“It’s gotten out of control, especially in the past month,” said Wolkin, vice president of operations at Atlanta-based Colgate Mattress, a 35-employee company that sells products at Target stores and independent retailers. “We’ve never seen anything like this.”Though polyurethane foam is 50% more expensive than it was before the Covid-19 pandemic, Wolkin would buy twice the amount he needs and look for warehouse space rather than reject orders from new customers. “Every company like us is going to overbuy,” he said. Even multinational companies with digital supply-management systems and teams of people monitoring them are just trying to cope. Whirlpool Corp. CEO Marc Bitzer told Bloomberg Television this month its supply chain is “pretty much upside down” and the appliance maker is phasing in price increases. Usually Whirlpool and other large manufacturers produce goods based on incoming orders and forecasts for those sales. Now it’s producing based on what parts are available.
“It is anything but efficient or normal, but that is how you have to run it right now,” Bitzer said. “I know there’s talk of a temporary blip, but we do see this elevated for a sustained period.” The strains stretch all the way back to global output of raw materials and may persist because the capacity to produce more of what’s scarce — with either additional capital or labor — is slow and expensive to ramp up. Read more…..
By Brendan Murray, Enda Curran, Kim Chipman, Bloomberg
As stocks stumble and cryptocurrency markets reel from a steep $400 billion correction, JPMorgan analysts warned in a Monday morning research note that other risky pockets in the broader market, including buzzy special purpose-acquisition companies and clean-energy stocks, are starting to approach bear market territory, unraveling the massive gains priced in under the longest bull market in history as investors worry about problematic inflation ahead.
Though global stocks are only down 2.5% from their peaks in April and May, some stock indexes—including the tech-heavy Nasdaq—are down about twice as much in a telltale sign that “markets are expensive and inflation is running hot” enough to doubt the central bank policy that’s been supporting economic growth, JPMorgan analysts wrote in a Monday note.
Headlining the stark reversal of fortunes, the value of the world’s cryptocurrencies—after roughly tripling this year—has crashed nearly 18% from a Wednesday high due in large part to a slew of negative tweets from billionaire Elon Musk, a vocal cryptosupporter who’s recently soured on the world’s largest cryptocurrency.
Meanwhile, clean energy stocks, which tripled last year in anticipation of sweeping progressive climate legislation, have fallen more than 35% since January as the broader tech sector slips and inflation hikes up the prices of the commodities necessary to manufacture products in the field.
Blockbuster public-market debuts have been a hallmark of the pandemic stock market—with new listings from Airbnb, Coinbase, DoorDash and more—but after soaring more than 100% in a year to a peak in February, newly listed U.S. stocks are down 26%, according to the Renaissance IPO ETF.
It gets even worse for SPACs (themselves a frothy market indicator) and the companies they’ve taken public, which have plummeted an average of nearly 38% from a February high, according to the first-ever SPAC ETF.
That big drop is in line with the 34% plunge the ARK Innovation ETF—a fund invested in “disruptive” tech and whose biggest holding is Tesla—has witnessed since February.
“All of these moves are consistent with a chain reaction that occurs when markets are expensive . . . but the ecosystem connecting the economy, markets and the [Federal Reserve] isn’t a nuclear power plant destined for meltdown,” JPMorgan analysts led by John Normand wrote Monday, pointing out that past market cycles have shown about 80% of “seemingly expensive asset classes” that crash in one business cycle end up returning to previous highs in the next cycle.
Analysts agree that the Federal Reserve’s unprecedented pandemic stimulus efforts have helped lift stocks and other assets to meteoric new price highs. However, concerns that pent-up demand and an economy awash with cash could spark problematic inflation and force the Fed to rethink its policy are now starting to rock the market. Stocks posted their worst week in three months last week, and at the same time, other assets have become increasingly sensitive to unpredictable shocks—most notably in the crypto market’s volatile reactions to Musk’s hot-and-cold tweets.
What To Watch For
“An inflation-induced stock market correction is possible, but an inflation-fueled shift in market leadership is more likely,” analysts at wealth advisory Glenmede wrote in a Monday note to clients, echoing commentary from other experts predicting that value stocks in recently hard-hit sectors like energy and financials will lead the market this year, as opposed to longtime market leaders in technology.
Noteworthy investments to protect against inflation include energy stocks, gold and Treasury bonds indexed to inflation (also known as TIPS).
I’m a reporter at Forbes focusing on markets and finance. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where I double-majored in business journalism and economics while working for UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School as a marketing and communications assistant. Before Forbes, I spent a summer reporting on the L.A. private sector for Los Angeles Business Journal and wrote about publicly traded North Carolina companies for NC Business News Wire. Reach out at email@example.com.
De la Vega, Joseph: Confusión de confusiones (1688): Portions Descriptive of the Amsterdam Stock Exchange. Selected and translated by Hermann Kellenbenz. (Cambridge, MA: Baker Library, Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, 1957)
Stringham, Edward Peter; Curott, Nicholas A. (2015), ‘On the Origins of Stock Markets,’ [Chapter 14, Part IV: Institutions and Organizations]; in The Oxford Handbook of Austrian Economics, edited by Peter J. Boettke and Christopher J. Coyne. (Oxford University Press, 2015, ISBN978-0199811762), pp. 324–344