The most obvious reality regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is that nearly everyone would agree there is much uncertainty. There is no playbook for a pandemic. And 10-, 20- and even 50-yr datasets are not so useful, because they encompass exactly zero similar episodes. The two biggest uncertainties are 1) the path of the healthcare crisis: When will it end? When is the vaccine/cure coming and will there be a second wave in the Fall? 2) Will consumers ever return to a restaurant, movie or concert? How much damage has been wrought? What is the new normal?

Nevertheless, there are five things (+a bonus) that are "certain": This isn’t a normal business cycle; federal policymakers have acted with lightning speed; the bond market is functioning well; consumers are emerging from their bunkers, though the speed is unknown; and we are certain everyone is "uncertain," right? Bonus: the Standard & Poor’s 500 index (SPX) has retraced 50% of its losses, and since 1929 in the 10 declines >30%, a 50% retrace has eliminated a retest of the low.

These certainties are important, as they can anchor a framework to understanding the crisis. One cannot really have an investment view without having a sense for where we are in the healthcare crisis. At the same time, as th...
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