Seven Financial Lessons the COVID-19 Pandemic Teaches Us (part 1)

During these times, many have found themselves stuck at home, wondering what they could have done differently and how to let that knowledge better their decision-making in the future. Financially, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided its fair share of lessons, which we would have rather not learned by such a hard way. However, the point should be to move forward wiser and more determined than ever before rather than to dwell on regretful mistakes.  So what lessons have we learned these days?

1. Overconfidence leads to poor financial decision-making

It is astounding that the difference a few weeks can make. Not too long ago, the financial market was reaching new heights at the same time unemployment was hitting rock-bottom lows. All seemed good. And many people were making financial decisions as if nothing could change – spending more, saving less, selecting riskier investments, and accumulating debt. However, everything has changed and it exposed the fragile financial house having been built. Fact shows that overconfidence leads to poor financial decision-making and is too aggressive in some areas. We must be wiser.

2. Everyone needs an emergency fund

Financial experts have emphasized the importance of emergency funds for some time. The reason is that a financial emergency is not a matter of whether or not but when. An adequate emergency fund can get you through times as your income is low or even nonexistent. Those with money set aside for an emergency are better able to weather this crisis.

3. Developing multiple streams of income is important

There are many reasons why people get side gigs: to save for the future, pay down debt, or give away more. What the pandemic has taught us is that multiple streams of income not only help us reach our financial goals during good times but they also help us make it through times under the common economy tanks and layoffs. The additional income streams also provide an opportunity to generate some income even if we lost a job.

What caused the 2008 financial crisis?

The unexpected COVID-19 pandemic has made financial markets around the world fall free, causing fears of a recession that will rival the financial crisis in 2008 when world leaders strive to stave off economic calamity.

The peril signs have naturally raised questions about the similarity of the current situation with the 2008 financial crisis, which is known as the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.

However, the 2008 crisis was different from the ongoing economic issues due to social distancing regulations and lockdowns quarantines.

WHAT TRIGGERS AN ECONOMIC DOWNTURN?

The worst economic downturn since the Great Depression was triggered by the overheating of the housing markets. The reason was that banks and other lenders approved mortgages, sometimes to borrowers that had poor credit histories, which drove up home prices to astronomical levels. Then banks sold the risky mortgage-backed securities to other financial organizations.

Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch, and many other big financial conglomerates all became lenders of mortgages. A 2018 paper published by the University of California Berkeley showed that Citigroup held onto $43 billion of high-risk mortgage-backed securities, UBS $50 billion, Morgan Stanley $11 billion, and Merrill Lynch $32 billion by the summer of 2007.

WHAT HAPPENS DURING A CRISIS?

The mentioned paper also said, “Since these institutions were producing and investing in risky loans, they were thus extremely vulnerable when housing prices dropped and foreclosures increased in 2007.”

Due to a glut of new homes on the market, housing prices across the U.S. started to plummet, which means that homeowners and their mortgage lenders were suddenly underwater since they owed on the mortgage more than the estimated value of their property. Owners lost their homes after having defaulted on their mortgage payments while banks holding the securities were pushed toward bankruptcy.

That the mortgage industry collapsed shocked not only the U.S. but also the global economy, the authors of the UC Berkeley paper wrote. If it had not been for the strong intervention of the government, U.S. homeowners and workers would have experienced even greater losses.