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Life in Lockdown

By Charles Hutchinson - Topics: Costa del Sol, investment diversification, Spain
This article is published on: 14th April 2020

Here we are starting the 5th week of lockdown in the Costa del Sol. What a surreal world it is compared to what we have known all our lives. I would like to think it is good for us and our moral fibre. Certainly it is morphing into a much more pleasant environment to the mess mankind was creating until the virus came along. Depending on your take on things, this is either nature seeking to redress our mishandling of this fragile planet, or it is the force we call God taking action to prevent our mass suicide. Of course, it can be argued they are both one and the same, but that discussion is for another time. I and my wife are very lucky, as is my son and his family. We live in houses with space and gardens. We are particularly lucky as we have 1.3 hectares of land and are at least 300 meters from the nearest lone house. We have dogs and can take them out for walks at will, on or off our land, and nearly always meet no one. We have fabulous views and my wife is catching up with all the stuff in the garden for which she normally does not have the time. We both work from home anyway and so our work regime has not altered.

Some of my clients in similar circumstances are also not enduring too bad a time, but the ones I feel for are those clients of mine who live alone in small apartments in urban areas and have no dogs. These are the ones I try to stay in touch with most. I am calm in the knowledge that their money is safe because they are with highly reputable companies and investment managers. And it is all about when the markets will begin to recover. It is their wellbeing that concerns me most and part of that is the reassurance they need that their security is not threatened in the long term.

Charles Hutchinson Estepona

Little Estepona has only one case so far (so lucky), it’s like a ghost town when I go down for our weekly shop. No one on the streets and the police have check points to enquire to where you are going and why and from where you have come.

You have to carry evidence on you to show what you are doing. It’s all good stuff to keep this dreadful thing outside of our city limits. But it does feel very bizarre. Telecommunications and web communications have replaced face to face and touchy feely, but that’s tolerable. The peace and quiet is incredible, you hear so much more now without the sometimes distant murmur of traffic, fireworks, helicopters and the boy racers roaring up and down our mountain road across the valley. The nightingales have arrived which is so beautiful and you can hear them even louder than before. The dawn chorus is almost deafening.

I have to say that the Spanish are bearing up extremely well. When you consider that their life is all about being out and about, socialising, meeting, kissing and hugging each other, sitting out in cafés with friends and family and just enjoying the social interaction, making huge amounts of noise, so much so that they design their homes, not for entertaining, but for spending as little time in them as possible. So now they are imprisoned for an indeterminate sentence, where they cannot go out except to buy essential food once a day, directly there and back, no meeting or touching people and if meeting someone by mistake, it must be from a distance. At the end of all this, we reckon there will be a spike in suicides, divorces and births. Our son Simon and family in Luxembourg, in the same lockdown, go to virtual drinks and dinner parties in the evenings and weekends with friends in the area. He showed us a photo of him getting ready for a dinner party. He was wearing a winged collar, black tie and dinner jacket and shorts and slippers (they can’t see the bottom half!). We’ve started them too; we have about half a dozen friends for drinks and it is hugely enjoyable. We use Zoom so that you can see everyone at the same time and chat together.

Rhona, my wife, has joined Gareth Malone’s virtual choir – I wonder if you have heard about it? The Great British Home Chorus. So far he has more than 110,000 people from all over the English speaking globe and she rehearses with him in the early evening. It is hilarious sometimes hearing these extraordinary howls from another part of the house or outside, my not hearing or seeing the great teacher conducting her.

So, what now? We really don’t know – anything could happen – gradual eradication or a resurgence of the virus? We know here there has been a partial release of lockdown for some workers, especially those who cannot work from home. There is a natural conflict between those who want to continue the lockdown to protect the health of the population and the health service and those who want to protect the economy, jobs and companies. It is very difficult to navigate a sensible course between the two. The global stock markets, which always try to predict the future (not the present nor the past), have already come off bottom with a double bounce nearly a month ago. Now this rise seems sustained for the moment or is this another dead cat bounce? What is obvious is that the markets want to get going again and advantage is being taken of these low levels by many. Those who have cash should think seriously about getting in at these levels, even if drip feeding. Some markets are already up between 20% – 30% from bottom and the potential is still there for a very healthy start to an investment, but it is not for the faint hearted. Cash is king no longer and a home has to be found for it. Make a plan, invest for the long term (at least 5 years), diversify your investments (even in multi asset funds alone), choose good investment houses and funds and stick to the plan. You will not go far wrong if you observe these simple rules.
If you would like to discuss this further, do please get in touch by contacting me as per below. I would even like to hear about your lockdown experiences!

Article by Charles Hutchinson

Charles HutchinsonIf you are based in the Costa del Sol area you can contact Charles at: charles.hutchinson@spectrum-ifa.com for more information. If you are based in another area within Europe, please complete the form below and we will put a local adviser in touch with you.

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