Now that we have reached December and the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is looming as a possible threat, the financial industry reassurers of the public are out in full force. The implicit logic so many of the TV and radio talking heads use is dismaying, and much of the consternation revolves around the seemingly innocuous word ‘yet’. Time and again, commentators over the past few days have said that we should not panic – yet. They also acknowledge that we don’t know enough about the new variant – yet. They consistently acknowledge that it’ll be a couple of weeks before we can say anything for sure. What will they say then?
The problem I have with the caution to not be hasty is in the literal application of the simple word ‘yet’. Not now…. maybe later. Is that really the case, though? If there was a circumstance where panic was truly warranted, would financial commentators step up and tell us we would be within our rights to do so? Using the word ‘yet’ implies that they will. I doubt it. Conversely, if there is never a circumstance when panic is warranted, why do they use the word ‘yet’ at all? It implies circumstantiality that never manifests. If something is never going to happen, why tell people not to worry about it ‘yet’?
Here’s a challenge. Name a time when financial commentators allowed that panicking would be justified. Please be as specific and detailed as possible in doing so. I’ll wait. I suspect I’ll be waiting a long time. The reason is that such advice has never been given…. yet.