Last Wednesday, August 31st, I officially joined the pandemic club by testing positive for COVID-19 for the first time. I had hoped to never become a member of this particular group. However, the virus had other plans. These included fever, ague, coughing, congestion, and general malaise. You know, good times!
The best part? I still don’t feel so hot. Better, to be sure, but not completely on top of my game. So, with that, I apologize if this week’s Common Cents doesn’t deliver chills & thrills of the non-COVID variety. Not that is does usually.
Clearly, the big headline for the week was/is the death of Queen Elizabeth II. That will be one of the bigger ones for the calendar year. In fact, people will probably use it as a reference point like they did JFK and Princess Diana’s deaths. To that end, I wasn’t alive for the former, and I was at the Coffee Shoppe on Hollywood Boulevard for the second.
In case anyone is wondering, Frances, the waitress, wasn’t working that shift.
But is it an business headline? Does her death impact the markets or global economy in any real, meaningful way? Honestly, probably not. However, it is interesting to consider how much the world changed during her reign. In some ways, you could say she presided over close to a century of gut-wrenching transformation and technological advancement. If not directly, then certainly indirectly.
So, let’s start with a list of inventions, and this is far from exhaustive:
|Thermonuclear devices||Solar battery||Hovercraft||Intermodal container|
|Hard disk drive||Laser||Personal computer||Artificial satellite|
|Integrated circuit||Crewed spaceflight||Kevlar||Lunar landing|
|Pocket calculator||Microprocessor||Space station||Video game console|
|Fiber optics||Self-driving car||GPS||Flash memory|
|Space shuttle||Digital media player||CD-ROM||Satellite TV|
|Laptop computer||Cell phone||DNA profiling||Lithium-ion battery|
|Audio compression (MP3)||World Wide Web (Internet)||Smart Phone||Bluetooth|
|DVD||Blockchain technology||Solar sail spacecraft||First synthetic organism|
|M16||Polio vaccine||Pacemaker||High yield rice|
|Bypass surgery||Industrial robots||MRI||Electronic vehicles|
|Human genome project||Social media||Hubble telescope||Webb telescope|
|Revolving credit cards||Microsoft Office||Texting|
How about some familiar consumer products/snack foods:
|Taco Bell||Denny’s||Burger King||Kentucky Fried Chicken|
|Pizza Hut||Cheez Whiz||Sprite||Tab|
|Gatorade||Diet Pepsi||Pop Rocks||Twix|
|Ben & Jerry’s||Combos||Reese’s Pieces||Instant Ramen|
|Fruit Rollups||Crystal Light||Capri Sun||Teddy Grahams|
|Diet Coke||Bagel Bites||Fruit Gushers||Domino’s|
|Pizza rolls||Starbucks||Cracker Barrel||Chipotle|
Care to think about some of the entertainment over the last 70 years?
|Bill Haley & the Comets||Elvis Presley||Buddy Holly||Ray Charles|
|The Beatles||Rolling Stones||Beach Boys||Fats Domino|
|Led Zeppelin||The Who||The Temptations||The Four Tops|
|The Supremes||Smokey Robinson||Marvin Gaye||CCR|
|Lynyrd Skynyrd||Allman Brothers||Michael Jackson||Bruce Springsteen|
|Simon & Garfunkel||Kingston Trio||REM||Billy Joel|
|U2||Metallica||Public Enemy||Grateful Dead|
|Shania Twain||George Straight||Johnny Cash||Willie Nelson|
|Conway Twitty||George Jones||Garth Brooks||Justin Beiber|
|Harry Styles||Post Malone||Beck||Van Halen|
Or the countries that declared their independence? Please understand I am not going to list all of them.
|DR of Congo||Eritrea||Gambia||Kenya|
Finally, an incomplete list of world leaders:
|Harry Truman||Dwight Eisenhower||John F. Kennedy||Lyndon Johnson|
|Richard Nixon||Gerald Ford||Jimmy Carter||Ronald Reagan|
|George HW Bush||Bill Clinton||George W. Bush||Barack Obama|
|Donald Trump||Joe Biden||Winston Churchill||Harold Macmillan|
|Harold Wilson||Edward Heath||Margaret Thatcher||John Major|
|Tony Blair||Gordon Brown||David Cameron||Theresa May|
|Boris Johnson||Liz Truss||Hirohito||Akihito|
|Gorbachev||Boris Yeltsin||Vladimir Putin||Konrad Adenauer|
|Willy Brandt||Helmut Schmidt||Helmut Kohl||Gerhard Schroder|
|Angela Merkel||Charles de Gaulle||Francois Mitterrand||Jacques Chirac|
|Nicolas Sarkozy||Mao Zedong||Deng Xiaoping||Jiang Zemin|
|Hu Jintao||Xi Jinping|
The list of new inventions, goods, and services is almost never ending. Shoot, the list of things which came and went during her reign is almost just as long. To that end, back in the day, I really wanted a Pet Rock in the worst way. However, my father told me just to go get one from out in the yard. Also, I wonder whatever happened to my digital alarm clock, transistor radio(s), boom box, and Harmon Kardon receivers, among other dated technologies.
During this near century of change, the Queen was a constant. To be sure, she wielded very little actual power or authority over her so-called dominions and absolutely zero in the United States. However, more than probably any other individual over the last 100 years, Elizabeth II represented permanence in a sea of change. An island, if you will.
The funny thing about life is change is a constant. Still, humans desire certainty, the sure thing if you will. When times are tough and things are looking grim, people want to hold it, touch it, see it, and even smell it. Intrinsicality, which my spell check is telling me is not a word (but it is).
In that regard, yeah, I suppose the Queen’s death is sort of an economic headline. I have changed my mind. Oh, to be sure, it won’t alter the ISM Reports on Business or next month’s Employment Situation numbers. Companies aren’t going to report massive changes to EPS or alter their forward guidance.
However, when push comes to shove, the economy is really nothing more than a constant study of change. This week, her passing was the biggest change in the world. From permanence to impermanence in the blink of an eye and a beating of the heart. The world will go on, as it must.
As for where I was when I heard the news? Well, right where I am now as I type: in front of my computer in my office. If that sounds stiff and boring, trust me, it is much better than being in the bed with COVID.
Thank you for your continued support. As always, I hope this newsletter finds you and your family well. May your blessings outweigh your sorrows not only on this day but every day. Also, please be sure to tune into our podcast, Trading Perspectives, which is available on every platform.
Please note, nothing in this newsletter should be considered or otherwise construed as an offer to buy or sell investment services or securities of any type. Any individual action you might take from reading this newsletter is at your own risk. My opinion, as those of our investment committee Investment Committee, is subject to change without notice. Finally, the opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the rest of the associates and/or shareholders of Oakworth Capital Bank or the official position of the company itself.