While the pandemic has taken away many of life’s enjoyable aspects, it has forced us to slow down, reflect and think about who we are, both as individuals and as a society.
Summer brought a slight reprieve from the grips of the pandemic, but as the weather has cooled and the days have grown shorter for many countries, within Europe especially, the sobering reality of the second wave has set in. While recent vaccine news from Pfizer, Moderna and Oxford has offered hope, distribution will be one of the greatest logistical challenges and “Vaccine Nationalism” may ensure distribution is unequal. This serves as a reminder that the pandemic will likely play out well in 2021 and the path to a post COVID world will be bumpy.
The US election, while chaotic and unprecedented, yielded a clear winner without major social unrest. The transition period is finally underway and the stock market has responded positively. As of late November, the S&P 500 is 7% higher than the highs set in February 2020. All indications point towards continued monetary stimulus programs by key central banks moving into 2021.
With time for societal introspection, we are seeing certain ESG trends accelerate. Recently Canada’s eight largest pension fund managers (responsible for $1.6-trillion in assets) issued a joint call for corporations to improve and standardize their ESG disclosures. The group has agreed on the best framework for ESG reporting as they look to shift behaviour within corporations. We can likely expect this trend to continue as the pandemic has put a spotlight on so many ESG issues.
On the home front, we are seeing a shift from urban centres to the suburbs and more rural areas as remote working offers new flexibility and the enjoyable benefits of living in a city temporarily fade. Real estate prices have surged in many Canadian suburbs. It is unknown if this trend will continue in a post-vaccine world, but for the time being space means more than just square feet.
On behalf of the Wigmore Association firms, I wish you and your family a safe, healthy and enjoyable holiday season.