As the number of COVID-19 cases tick upwards in Massachusetts, it is imperative that the real estate and banking communities keep their responses measured.
Thanks in large part to President Donald Trump’s ham-handed handling of this crisis, clear facts on the ground are hard to come by. Even basic facts, like how many people the coronavirus has infected in Massachusetts, are unknown because federal health officials have singularly failed to make sure healthcare providers and public health experts on the ground can test widely.
In this environment, as investors and money managers are showing right now on Wall Street, fear can easily take hold. In an effort to shore up their positions, traders are fleeing to U.S. Treasury bonds, content to make next to no money in order to avoid losing any amid uncertainty.
At home, we’re seeing a related move, as colleges, public school systems and large businesses close or shift to remote operations for the next weeks and months until the full extent of the coronavirus pandemic is known.
Even average Bay Staters, spooked by images of nationwide quarantines enacted in China and Italy and by Trump’s plainly negligent dallying, are cleaning out supermarkets of canned goods, toilet paper and other necessities as though stocking fallout shelters.
But as anyone whose business made it through the 2008 financial crisis and the Great Recession will tell you, the only way to win at times like these is to stay calm, find ways to hold your position and seize opportunities when others around you are losing their heads.
The fundamentals of the Massachusetts real estate sector and economy at large are strong. Our chief industries – biotech, medicine, higher education and tech – were highly successful and growing before this crash largely because of solid fundamentals, not speculation.
And the real estate bets made to support these growing industries were almost universally made taking into consideration what could happen seven to 10 years out – enough time for a full business cycle to come and go.
Even as this public health crisis unfolds, we already have numerous tools at hand, from simple soap to tech tools like Zoom and Slack, that will let our state keep humming along.
Massachusetts’s fundamentals are strong and will continue to be so even if it takes our current president and Congressional Republicans far too long to agree on sensible interventions to curtail these stock market and public health crises, and prevent them from becoming financial and demand crises.
Letters to the editor of 300 words or less may be submitted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “Letter to the Editor,” or mailed to the offices of The Warren Group. Submission is not a guarantee of publication.