Over the weekend, we marked three years since COVID-19 was officially declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Despite the passage of time, my memories of the weeks leading up to that announcement are very clear, as we all grappled with how best to protect ourselves and our families in the face of a distinct lack of information and what was then very little government support. What is perhaps most striking looking back now on those events three years ago is our complete lack of recognition at the time of how the pandemic would go on to change our lives forever. Most importantly, we should take this moment to grieve for the lives lost (and yet to be lost) because of COVID-19. Finally, we wonder when this pandemic will ever end.
As we navigate yet another period of market volatility that, at least in part, traces its roots to the wide-ranging impacts of the pandemic, the measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and the government’s efforts to avert economic calamity, there are some important lessons to consider for our daily practice:
- Markets Worked. In the darkest days of 2020, when markets were swooning, companies were still able to raise capital and, in quite a few cases, set themselves up for extraordinary business success as the pandemic raged on. For some, that success proved to be short-lived as the pandemic conditions waned, but at least they got their day in the sun. In short, markets worked in the face of crisis, which is a comforting reminder as we face yet another financial crisis this morning.
- Disclosure Worked. One of the highlights for me in the early days of the pandemic was how companies stepped up and sought to provide effective disclosure to investors, even in the face of extraordinary uncertainty. While it may not have been possible to provide guidance at a time when economic activity had ground to a halt, companies tried to provide whatever current and forward-looking information that they could to keep investors informed about developments, and the SEC and its staff did a good job of providing guidance on how that level of transparency could best be accomplished.
- We Worked. While it is easy to characterize the last three years of the pandemic as a very fractured time in our government and society, there was a lot of collective effort that sustained us through those tough times. Teachers and students rapidly pivoted to a remote learning environment, officer workers shifted quickly to work from home mode and our frontline workers, first responders, soldiers and healthcare workers put their lives on the line everyday to not let the pandemic defeat us. Incredibly, a vaccine was developed and deployed very quickly to avert total calamity. While, for a variety of reasons, the country did not seem to come together in the same sort of patriotic unity that we saw during World War II or after 9/11, we still somehow managed to get it done. And for that, we should all be very grateful.
– Dave Lynn, TheCorporateCounsel.net, March 13, 2023
Photo Credit: Ralf Liebhold. Viersen, Germany – July 7. 2020