The timing and sharp momentum of this thing are an analytic distortion. Although it was around for months prior to March, it wasn’t mainstream or considered seriously outside of the fringes. The tipping point was in March – the lockdowns, the distancing, the closures, the briefings – though it might feel like centuries ago.
So there are two worlds to consider – side by side, before and after – coresidents of the 2020 Q1 period and sharply contrasted. The suddenness and magnitude of the change, past the mid-quarter mark and at a point when the third month’s sales are mostly booked and deal terms mostly negotiated, may be a market noise factor that will need some sifting.
In earnings season, beats and misses that drive price swings and, depending on the source, ripple into adjacent areas, may be deceptive.
In the trenches, the closing of investments have been case dependent.
There isn’t a true signal for where we are and where we will be in the periods ahead, if we read Q1 from too high up. Conversely, it’s difficult to know what Q2 will be like with hindsight, when each day comes with sharp new possibilities – some of which reflexive, based on past results – and we’re not yet even at the end of the period’s first month.
The models that we use and the perspectives that conventionally shape planning and analysis, which sometimes lead and are sometimes led by fund flows in the market, may be another transformation in the post-pandemic world. Quarterly guidelines may be the final outpost of another time, when moment-to-moment congruence could be somewhat taken for granted.