“When the tide rolls out, you find out who’s been swimming naked”
– Warren Buffett, paraphrased by me (badly)

The above is a well known business quote by the great investor. Specifically about people who seemingly run robust operations when the sun’s out during a bull market. But it isn’t until the bear markets and recessions pop up, when the shit really hits the fan, that you find out for real who (and what) is or isn’t actually fragile or sustainable.

With all that’s going on recently, it’s a thought that keeps coming back to me. And not just because I have one eye on the stock market (see: previous thoughts on changing my relationship with risk and money and proactivity).

It doesn’t matter how relatively unphased I am by the whole thing or how short this whole affair ends up being or how overblown the downside is. I still have to respect that the world probably isn’t going to be the same post-Covid, same as after 9/11. Certain surprising things have been laid bare and some genies are out their bottles forever.

Certain assumptions. About our ways of life or our cultures and values. About what we thought was important or what we scoffed at. Our institutions and philosophies. Our leaders and systems. Our relations to one another, both as individuals and as nations.

People will die in the fallout of all this. Others will be ruined financially. Many through dumb luck or pre-existing issues. But many also through laziness or ill-preparedness. Some of them will be people you and I know or even care about. That’s just the odds I suppose. But for the fortunate who are left standing afterwards, we should be pondering about how naked we turned out to be.

I think we’ll look back at this point in time and scratch our heads at how oblivious we were to so much. At how it took something like this to shake us up. And at how we got by for so long wearing so little. And I think we’ll be doing it for decades to come.

Stay safe.