“Is this real?” the man at the dump asked me.
But before we get to the transfer station, and ahead of Alert Level 4 implementation, there was the dirt to pick up.
Flour was not available anywhere so I decided now might instead be a good time to get that compost for the back garden where the poor soil has been holding back the magnolias.
By the Wednesday wholesale gardening supplies would likely be closed: the government had yet to clarify and the guy at the yard wasn’t sure if earth would fall under ‘essential supplies’.
As it happened, people weren’t panic-buying dirt (not yet). The loan trailer was available. I bought three scoops of compost – equal to a ‘cube’ – for $80. It was dirt cheap.
After shoveling a cubic metre of dirt, I turned my attention to digging up some investment news.
Unlike gardening supplies, media – including Investment News NZ – has been deemed essential.
We intend to keep publishing during the lock-down as per normal even if nothing else is.
But just as all correlations head to one in a crisis, news also aggregates during a disaster.
One way or another every story is about coronavirus.
Nonetheless, the NZ financial services machinery continues to function. People across the industry are adapting to quickly to working from home (it’s not so bad). Government and regulators have loosened many restrictions to ease the transition.
Of course, extreme market volatility has spurred some classic crisis behaviour (note the KiwiSaver exodus to conservative funds) and legitimate new worries about the sudden economic shutdown.
The long-term impact of government and central bank financial rescue ‘packages’ is impossible to calculate.
Back at the dump, I finally recognised the bit of paper the man had pulled out of the rubbish: it was a US dollar, a greenback plucked from the green waste.
He smoothed the grubby one-dollar note in his hand to show me.
It was appreciating in value by the second despite the Fed’s move that week to print an infinite number of dollars and the US government about to dispense 2.2 trillion of the things.
“Yes,” I told him, “it’s real.”