2020… A Year to Forget?

Photo by Edwin Hooper on Unsplash

2020 has been a year that many would rather forget. Bushfires, a global pandemic, lockdowns, panic buying and share market crashes dominated headlines this year but let’s not overlook all the good things that have happened.

We thought we’d put together a short timeline events focusing on the big picture. Stay tuned for our advice at the end on staying upbeat and keeping your financial house in order:

  • It wasn’t a great start with bushfires raging across Australia and overflowing from 2019. 47 million hectares of bushland burnt out, displaced thousands of people and sadly took the lives of at least 34 people. Not to mention the damage done to animals and wildlife.
  • Prince Harry & Meghan Markle renounced their royalty.
  • We started hearing reports about a mysterious virus spreading from China. The virus infected someone at a live-food market in Wuhan, China and was said to originate from a bat.
  • Star basketballer Kobe Bryant from the L.A. Lakers died in a helicopter crash with his daughter Gigi.
  • Donald Trump faced an impeachment trial but was ultimately acquitted of any charges.
  • Global share markets went into a tailspin. The growing coronavirus pandemic triggered a global recession as numerous countries went into lockdown. The Dow Jones suffered its worst single-day point drop ever on March 16, falling 13%.
  • Highly restrictive lockdown measures were introduced to combat the spread of COVID-19. Many white-collar workers were told to work from home while hospitality, arts & entertainment, events, tourism, and several other industries were almost wiped-out out overnight. Many businesses were forced to make drastic cuts in the form of mass layoffs.
  • An African American named George Floyd died in a horrific incident with a local police officer. The incident was caught on camera and replayed to viewers all over the world. Massive protests and unrest in many cities—including Melbourne—and towns across the globe ensued asthe black lives matter movement was born.
  • The AFL was called off after the first round for a two-month break. A mishmash of games followed in Sydney, Adelaide, Perth & Brisbane (anywhere but Melbourne).
  • We witnessed unprecedented stimulus packages being introduced by Governments all over the world and in Australia in the form of JobKeeper & JobSeeker—a response to mass unemployment and the trickle-down effects of COVID-19.
  • Joe Biden became the Democratic presidential nominee ahead of Bernie Sanders and a stacked field that included rapper Kanye West.
  • We had an initial wave of infections followed by easing of restrictions. Not before a more severe lockdown was introduced as Victoria suffered the pain and embarrassment of leaving barely qualified security guards with the task of manning hotel quarantine sites scattered in the suburbs of Melbourne.
  • On August 2 Melbourne entered the strictest stage of what would become one of the longest lockdowns in the world, lasting 15 weeks.
  • A chemical explosion obliterated a major port in Beirut and killed at least 190 people.
  • Donald Trump tested positive to COVID-19
  • The mighty Cats went all the way to Grand Final but fell at the last hurdle to a ‘Dusty’ inspired Richmond.
  • Joe Biden was elected the 46th president of America, but Donald Trump remains president and hopes it can stay that way. Read our piece from November talking about the impact of the elections on financial markets in Australia.
  • We sent four astronauts into space on a SpaceX rocket.
  • Restrictions were finally eased in Melbourne and regional Victoria after a string of successive days without any new cases of Coronavirus.
  • Pubs and restaurants are slowly being re-opened with capacity restrictions still firmly in place. A vaccine with 95% efficacy is on the way in 2021.
  • Normality is slowly returning to life and looks like we can enjoy a Christmas with family & friends the way we always have, despite a horrible year.

To be sure, 2020 has been one we would almost rather forget. But let’s not overlook all the good things that have happened.

In Victoria, never have local communities banded together more. Stories of neighbours looking out for each other during lockdown were everywhere. Telemedicine is making healthcare more accessible than ever. More people are washing their hands. Bike shops cannot keep up with demand. Australians have adopted hundreds of thousands of shelter pets and many have spent their time at home rediscovering old hobbies.

And it seems like a lifetime ago the ICC Women’s World Cup final was held at the MCG on Sunday March 8, and the Australian women’s team beat their Indian counterparts by 85 runs before a crowd of – get this – 86,174 people!

As a nation, we’ve proven to ourselves and the world just how resilient Australians are. We think this is something to be proud of as we look toward 2021.

As for the share market, the ASX200 index is not far from where we saw it in late February. This is a welcome site after initial reports of investment Armageddon back in March.

If it felt like the worst year ever then just remember our brains tend to judge the present more harshly. Relentless media consumption skews our perception if left unchecked as well. It becomes easy to slide into unhealthy patterns of belief and make rash financial decisions in this case.

But at the very least, it seems we have all taken a deep breath in 2020 and paused for a moment to think about what really matters in life. We’ve been forced to question the way we do things and ask whether our relentless appetite for ‘more of everything’ is worth it.

We’ve helped many would-be retirees answer this question from a financial point of view. If you’d like to know more about our strategies for planning for a comfortable retirement in a volatile economic environment, then please get in touch with us today on (03) 5224 2700.

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