GreenStar Monthly Newsletter Excerpt: June 2020
Hello. Each month, we go through the monthly routine of deciding what to share with you. Sometimes, this is a topic of education or commentary. Earlier in the year, we’ve felt the need to distill down some rationality from the pandemic chaos. America is in a dark place. At the beginning of the year, we would have all been astounded that there was a global deadly pandemic going on. We have been even more surprised that it wasn’t the top headline.
You may remember as a kid searching for rocks on the ground. Every now and then you’d lift up a rock nestled in the earth and find an entire food chain of bugs, spiders, and millipedes. Yes you could clean off the rock, but the shocking sight was a little bit too much to deal with so you just moved on. For as long as any of us have been alive, every now and then some event happens where America’s racist underbelly is exposed. There is broad horror, and then we put the rock back in place ignoring the mess we saw. You could make the same analogy with a lot of problems in our society.
The pessimist in us remembers all the other times when anger was stirred, but nothing changed. However, the optimist in us remembers Dr. King’s arc of justice and that while nothing may ever fully completed the arc, a series of events add up to its bend. Those “pieces of the arc” have many names: George Floyd, Eric Garner, Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, Raymond Gunn, Sam Hose, and Emmett Till. Sadly, this highly abbreviated list will continue to grow. A few years ago, Will Smith (yes that one) said, “Racism isn’t getting worse, it’s getting filmed.” While at times, technology can feel like it has made society worse, we may find it as the ultimate catalyst for change.
Bridge Over Troubled Waters
As the summer approaches and many countries open up for business the new reality becomes apparent. The new social distancing norms and regulations are bound to have a lasting effect in how we go about doing things. Schooling is changing, public transportation is affected, airline and hotel capacity limits are reduced. De-globalization is accelerating due to the dangers of travel while “virtual” globalization is increasing as remote work is adopted. The energy markets are changing and a new era of clean energy is upon us. Tectonic changes are accelerating and the extra boost in “helicopter” money may just speed things up.
Nevertheless, the effect of the virus is not quite over yet: Brazil is being hit by the coronavirus while Argentina, which was more successful in containing the virus, has once again defaulted on a $500 million interest payment. There are however some hopeful signs. We have indeed flattened the curve. With reopening across the US, we are not seeing rapid outbreaks at this point. This is all very good news and it is a blueprint for a path forward. While the quarantine itself saved lives, it was also excellent training for how to not spread germs. While we don’t see that a near term vaccine is likely, we are optimistic that we know how to handle this and we can rebuild an economic structure around it.
Market Capitalization and a Sign of the Times
If you read financial news, you may have seen the term “Market Capitalization” (or just “Market Cap”). This is a way to measure the total size and value of a company based on the stock price and total number of outstanding shares. Microsoft is the largest company by Market Cap at about $1.3 trillion dollars. Home Depot’s market cap is about $270 billion dollars.
Because of the pandemic, Zoom, the software used for video conference calls, is now worth more than the top seven airlines combined. If that’s not a sign of the times, we don’t know what is. Here is what this looks like: