Mark Twain once said: “It’s better to keep your mouth shut and be thought an idiot than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

Pandemics, Oil and Markets

We do not want to appear in any sense experts in some of the critical emerging themes, or to pretend domain knowledge in (for example) epidemiology. We do, however, feel an urgent need to better understand the human, economic and financial impacts of these themes, to think carefully about our personal and business responses, and to communicate these to our clients.

There is so much uncertainty currently circulating that to make a clear statement of the future, the present or even the near past is very difficult. Part of the problem is that the situation is changing very quickly, and that there is a huge amount of speculation and misinformation, mixed in with high quality data gathering and analysis. (For example, at one point the World Health Organisation (WHO) described social media speculation on COVID-19 as an “infodemic”.[1])

We will, however, attempt to summarise the various threads, draw some conclusions and suggest some actions.

Mark Twain also said “I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.” While every attempt has been made to write a concise note on this topic, we believe it is important to communicate with clients on this topic quickly rather than refine the message to a shorter note. This note is probably too long, for which we apologise in advance.