5 Ways a Post-Pandemic U.S. Might Look Different

There’s still a long way to go and a great deal of work to be done before COVID-19 is in our rearview mirror. As with any major global crisis, there will inevitably be long-term social, economic, and systematic changes that will arise as a result.

Pre-9/11 and post-9/11, irretrievable loss occurred. Systemic changes were implemented that impacted how people travelled, immigration policies, and privacy rights. A slew of new regulatory agencies (e.g. the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and the Department of Homeland Security) were implemented as well as legislation (e.g. The USA Patriot Act) that remain in place today. Therefore, it is only logical to think about how a pandemic like COVID-19 may potentially alter the world moving forward, and how those changes could impact our lives, our economy, and our country.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

It is predicted that a post-pandemic world will look a bit different from the life we lived before the coronavirus outbreak.

Social, economic, and political changes will bring new opportunities, shift the investment landscape, and require us all to revisit and reassess our financial picture.

Creating a comprehensive goals-based financial plan can help prepare and protect you against probable volatility and possible risks.

1. A renewed trust in scientific and medical expertise
The past decade has witnessed a wholesale shift for some – away from the guidance of physicians, scientists, and other learned professionals. In the aftermath of this pandemic, the pendulum may begin to shift back—with more of a view towards hard data and evidence for important decision-making. From an investment perspective, this could have the potential to bode well for certain industries such as alternative energy providers, pharmaceuticals, and health care.

2. Work-from-home becomes the new normal
Initially, there may likely be a tremendously welcome relief in getting back to the daily rhythm of commuting, office life, and being among friends and co-workers. Soon after, however, both employees and employers may begin to realize that for many non-manufacturing businesses, telecommuting can be far more cost-effective, while at the same time resulting in an even higher level of productivity.

If it comes to fruition, this is a trend that could have significant long-term negative ramifications for commercial real estate, transportation, and auto manufacturers, while further buoying technology and broadband/fiber optic internet providers.

3. Sustained long-term social distancing
Not only will we likely see continued adoption and widespread use of videoconferencing platforms like Zoom (as well as new emerging technologies), we may see a sustained drop in the amount of general business travel—further impacting the already battered airline and hospitality industries.

In a similar vein, our post-COVID world may also see a marked increase in the use of telemedicine to provide basic non-essential medical consultations, enabling healthcare professionals to better utilize limited resources, and help manage the cost of healthcare.

4. Wider acceptance of “big government”
Since the early 1980s, with a few notable exceptions such as the passing of The Affordable Care Act, the prevailing sentiment in the U.S. has leaned towards favoring a smaller, less intrusive federal government. It’s a movement that reached its pinnacle in the 2009 Tea Party victories which reshaped Congress. What this pandemic has demonstrated, however, is that there’s a strong case to be made in certain areas for greater centralized control and coordination.

Not only do inefficiencies arise when states compete against each other for resources, but widely divergent state-by-state regulations make addressing nationwide challenges all the more difficult. As life slowly returns to some semblance of normalcy, we may see Americans becoming more willing to support large federal initiatives which could result in a marked increase in infrastructure spending (and possibly the strongest push yet towards universal healthcare) over the coming years.

5. Restructuring of higher education
As the price of a college education has continued to soar, saddling an entire generation with massive debt, calls for systemic change have grown increasingly louder. COVID-19 may ultimately serve as a catalyst for this change—providing a real-life case study as to the value, effectiveness, and success of online learning.

The result may be a wholesale restructuring/repricing of higher education, with online classes becoming rule while universities with robust campus lives become the exception; limited to the most prestigious institutions as well as those catering to degrees that require more hands-on empirical study. It’s a change which could help launch a new generation of young workers who are less encumbered by debt and more able to become independent and active consumers.

How Might These Changes Impact Your Financial Plan?

Imagine if someone told you just a year ago that the entire U.S. and much of the world would shut down their economies and be living under stay-at-home orders? Would you have believed that to be possible? This is why creating comprehensive goals-based financial plans and building corresponding investment portfolios is important to prepare you for the probable but protect you against the possible.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the thought of financial planning and investing—especially when the world seems to be in such flux. However, when all your protection, retirement, investment, and estate planning goals are consolidated into a cohesive goals-based plan, it can help insulate your financial future from whatever changes may come.

SMRU 1867483 (Exp.12/31/2020)