The World of Multiemployer Benefit Funds Podcast

Meet Stephen McCourt, Managing Principal and Co-Chief Executive Officer or Meketa Investment Group

May 11, 2020 Traci Dority-Shanklin Season 2 Episode 2
The World of Multiemployer Benefit Funds Podcast
Meet Stephen McCourt, Managing Principal and Co-Chief Executive Officer or Meketa Investment Group
Chapters
The World of Multiemployer Benefit Funds Podcast
Meet Stephen McCourt, Managing Principal and Co-Chief Executive Officer or Meketa Investment Group
May 11, 2020 Season 2 Episode 2
Traci Dority-Shanklin

Meet Stephen McCourt, Managing Principal and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Meketa Investment Group. Steve serves as the lead consultant for several institutional, public, Taft-Hartley, endowment, and non-profit funds.   

This episode is packed with a lot of essential thoughts as we all navigate the economic and business disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Highlights include:

  • How multiemployer plan trustees are handling yet another economic crisis.
  • Steve's insights on how this disruption is shifting the execution of multiemployer plans meetings and reporting.
  • The adoption and future reliance on technology solutions for all fund business.
  • The likely shift in the way multiemployer plans will be conducting the funds business going forward.  
  • And much more!



Show Notes Transcript

Meet Stephen McCourt, Managing Principal and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Meketa Investment Group. Steve serves as the lead consultant for several institutional, public, Taft-Hartley, endowment, and non-profit funds.   

This episode is packed with a lot of essential thoughts as we all navigate the economic and business disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Highlights include:

  • How multiemployer plan trustees are handling yet another economic crisis.
  • Steve's insights on how this disruption is shifting the execution of multiemployer plans meetings and reporting.
  • The adoption and future reliance on technology solutions for all fund business.
  • The likely shift in the way multiemployer plans will be conducting the funds business going forward.  
  • And much more!



Meet Steven McCourt, Managing Principal and Co-Chief Executive Officer for Meketa Investment Group

Narrator  0:03  

This is The World of Multiemployer Benefit Funds podcast with Traci Dority-Shanklin. If you're interested in labor and union benefit funds, well, you've landed in the right place. We are a go-to source for all things union benefit fund related, and we are going to bring you interviews with key decision makers and fund professionals that guide these plans. They'll share their insights, experience, unique perspectives, all of the latest developments, and tips to unlock the mysteries of multiemployer benefit funds. Time is short, so let's get started.

Traci Dority-Shanklin  0:37  

Our guest today is Steven McCourt, who is the managing principal co-Chief Executive Officer for Meketa Investment Group. Steven joins Meketa Investment Group in 1994 and has over 25 years of investment experience. Steve serves as the lead consultant for several institutional, public, Taft-Hartley, endowments, and nonprofit funds. His consulting work includes investment policy design, strategic and tactical asset allocation modeling, asset liability modeling, investment education, and investment manager analysis. 

Traci Dority-Shanklin  1:14  

In addition, Steve sits on the firm's board of directors and is a member of the Executive Private Market Policy, Investment Policy, and the Meketa Fiduciary Management Investment committees. Steve sits on the steering committee of the University of California-San Diego's Economics Roundtable. He is also the member of the UCSD's Economics Leadership Council which strives to bridge research theory with practical real-world experiences. He received his graduate degree, a Master of Liberal Arts in History from Harvard University and his undergraduate degree in Economics and Political Science from the University of Vermont. 

Traci Dority-Shanklin  1:54  

Steve received the Chartered Financial Analyst designation from the CFA Institute and is a member of the CFA Society of San Diego. He is also a member of the International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans. So, this is quite a resume and in light of the corona-economic virus, and crisis, I know that this conversation will be extremely informative to our listeners. So, thank you so much for being with us today, Steve.

Steve McCourt  2:23  

Thank you, Traci. My pleasure.

Traci Dority-Shanklin  2:25  

So, since World War 2, there has been this increasing frequency of financial crises. The last 20 years have been especially hard on the multiemployer pension plans. They've endured the crisis of 2001 and 2008, combined with regulatory changes, which has caused the solvency of many multiemployer plans to be in question. Before COVID-19, there were already 130 funds projected to insolvency and now we have an additional 200 or so plans in jeopardy given the crisis. So, given the lessons of history, how have trustees been responding to this crisis?

Steve McCourt  3:04  

Right. I think to a certain extent, it's a little too early to observe - let alone judge the reaction to this crisis. There's a few differences in the initial condition that plans come into this crisis with. And just kind of maybe going back a couple of recessions to the early 2000s, most Taft-Hartley plans were in, certainly in retrospect, phenomenal condition in the late 1990s coming into the recession of the early 2000s. And so, while most were - were hit hard during that time, they were hit hard from a fairly robust position. 

Steve McCourt  3:44  

The recovery between 2003 and 2007 was not a particularly strong recovery. It allowed plans to recover to a solid position but not nearly as strong a position as they were in in 1999. 2008 was, of course, a real killer for a lot of plans, because that recession was much more severe than the early 2000 recession. The stock market reaction, the bear market, was much more severe. And plans came into it in a less sound financial position. So, 2008 was a fairly catastrophic event for a lot of plans. And I think there's been a lot of lessons learned coming out of that. 

Steve McCourt  4:32  

But, what's different this time around is, as plans emerged from the 2008-9 recession, it started becoming much more clear that within the Taft Hartley world, there were plans that on a demographics basis were quite sound and long term, but there were unions and plans that were much more mature demographically. And in the context of a significant shock to their investment portfolios would have a very hard time recovering, regardless of how strong the markets recovered. And so, as a consequence over the last decade, we've seen quite an array of experiences from Taft-Hartley plans. There's some that have done phenomenally well from a contribution and jobs perspective, from an investment perspective. 

Steve McCourt  5:30  

Many of our clients, you know, come into this COVID experience 100% for in excess of 100% funded Taft-Hartley clients, but there's a number that have real demographic and economic challenges that can't be solved by investment portfolios. And so, unlike the late 90s, where the bull market seemed to benefit virtually all Taft-Hartley plans, today, it's much more varied. You have plans that are in really strong financial condition and you have plans that are in very weak financial condition. And my best guess is that this recession and bear market that we're just starting is going to continue to amplify those differences. You will have plans that are able to weather the volatility and the economic impact fairly well. And you have other plans where this will again be a catastrophic event for them. So, I think the - the most likely outcome is a lot of variety in the way that plans emerge from this volatility.

Steve McCourt  6:36  

From an investment standpoint, I'd say the two primary lessons that plans have learned over the last 15 or 20 years is first and foremost, you need to be invested in equity assets in order to benefit from the bull market that always comes back at some point. And you need to constantly be aware and plan for the recession and the pullback that also is always present in the capital markets. So, I think the plans that do best are the ones that that plan, they think strategically they prepare for recessions, know in advance sort of how they're going to react to their markets. And so, when the bear market hits, they have a plan to move forward with. So, I think that might be kind of the biggest lesson coming out of the last few financial crises.

Traci Dority-Shanklin  7:28  

So, in light of the - the strategies that were likely put in place because of the most recent recessions, do plans typically do a lot of moving of assets in a period like this or do they - is it more like let's wait - a wait and see approach because they already have a plan in place?

Steve McCourt  7:46  

Again, while - while there's variety, I'd say on the whole plans tend to have more of a wait and see approach because they have long term strategies that anticipate market volatility like this. You tend to see a lot of rebalancing activity during periods like this. So, there's, you know, in the last couple of months, you know, clearly a lot of money that shifted from bonds back into stocks, the stock prices have gone down. And as the bear market evolves, you might see rebalancing in both directions from stocks back to bonds at some point as well. So, you will see that sort of activity, but we've yet to see any wholesale changes in investment approaches that trustees are taking. 

Steve McCourt  8:33  

I think one of the really strong advancements in the industry as a whole since 2008 is to me anyway, it appears that boards of trustees today are much more long-term focused than they have been in past recessions. They're truly looking at investments over a 10, 15, 20-year period and making investment decisions within that context and as a consequence, there's less knee-jerk reactions so far anyway than what we saw and heard about in the last fewer sessions.

Traci Dority-Shanklin  9:11  

Going back to the conversation about some of these plans, being - having older participants, so there's some inherent in that there are some issues, some funding issues. Have you seen a move? I know there's been lots of conversation on alternative plans and move to the defined contribution, more defined contribution plans and/or hybrid plans? Is that discussion still taking place? Or did that sort of get squashed when - during the bull market?

Steve McCourt  9:42  

You know, from my observation, Traci, is - is probably that that dialogue is less present today than it was eight or nine years ago. But you may see that dialogue, you know, gain steam as funded status levels decline in these pension plans. I wouldn't go so far as to say the bull market has squashed it. But I think the bull market certainly reduced the urgency of addressing it. And I've yet to see the dialogue sort of elevate importance again, but again, we're just eight weeks through this, you know, recent bear market.

Traci Dority-Shanklin  10:18  

So, how concerned are you - kind of switching gears to pension reform - and I'm wondering, in your opinion, what kind of reform do you think is needed to assist these more critical funds? 

Steve McCourt  10:33  

It's a really tricky issue. I mean, I think, starting at the broadest level, the government's going to have to make a public policy decision on how critical retirement savings and retirement security is to the federal government. There's a lot of good reasons to provide significant federal support to defined benefits pension plans. And we're all aware of all the good reasons to do that including, you know, supporting greater consumption amongst retirees, reducing anxiety with retirees, and improving the - the pool of stable savings we have in our economy that defined benefit plans provide. And if the federal government approaches the pension crisis or retirement crisis in America in that framework, I think there's really strong arguments to have the federal government provide financial support for pension plans, much in the same way that the federal government has provided financial support for corporations and for individuals. 

Steve McCourt  11:47  

So, that could come in a variety of forms. Traci, it could come from the government providing assistance to defined benefit pension plans directly in the form of cash and assets. It can come in the form of the government allowing pension plans to borrow from the Federal Reserve to increase their asset base. It could come in the form of the government finally providing enough assistance to the PBCG, so that failed plans can be resolved in a way that doesn't place the pain on beneficiaries. There's a lot of good uses for - for the capital if and when the federal government decides that it's going to take the pension crisis seriously.

Traci Dority-Shanklin  12:29  

So, your subjective opinion is - would be interesting here - is how concerned are you that there's a lot of talk of these stimulus packages going out, and I know that there has been dialogue about including and I know, there's been a push to include pension plan reform and some of the things you just mentioned in these packages. How concerned are you that that actually happens?

Steve McCourt  12:52  

Yeah, we're more concerned today than I was a few weeks ago. I think, in the first couple of weeks, there was strong bipartisan support for lots of federal stimulus that went way beyond anything the federal government had done in 2008. And that included Republican support for stimulus checks to all Americans. And it included Democratic support for corporate subsidies provided by the Fed and the government. As the rhetoric you've seen that started to shift in the last couple of weeks, and it shifted more towards an environment of, I would say, shaming those that are receiving support. And a lot of public companies have been forced to either not apply or to give back the stimulus that was initially approved by the federal government for them. 

Steve McCourt  13:47  

Mitch McConnell has said that he has favored states municipalities going bankrupt as opposed to providing support for them. So, the political rhetoric on both sides has started to elevate in the last couple of weeks which definitely makes me more pessimistic that there's an easy bipartisan road forward on additional stimulus, which I think is a shame. But it's kind of where we find ourselves today. So, my guess is if there is a spot for stimulus funds to flow towards pension relief in the next couple of months, it's not going to be an easy path. It's going to require a lot of negotiation and give up some both sides of the aisle.

Traci Dority-Shanklin  14:30  

So, from, I guess, a macro standpoint, if these plans don't get some support, the ones that are in the critical and declining status, and that could potentially be saved, not taking away what you originally talked about is, you know, the level of membership and the age of the members or any organizing efforts - what do you think is the macro economic impact to us? I mean, is there another crisis looming if they don't get some part - I don't know - some reform or stimulus to help them? 

Steve McCourt  15:05  

I think it's a slow-evolving crisis that, you know, we've been living through already for the last decade or so. The retirement crisis in America is really one of both lack of sufficient retirement funds for the average American. I'm talking about not just defined benefit plans, but defined contribution plans, Social Security, all the legs of the stool, but it's also one of retirement security. And that goes to longevity risk. No one's quite sure how much money people need to have saved coming into retirement. Because we never are quite sure how long we're going to live for and what our spending requirements are during retirement years and that produces a level of anxiety amongst people who are retiring. 

Steve McCourt  15:58  

So, the crisis has two subtle elements to it. One is just a money issue, and the other one is a longevity risk component. And this bear market and subsequent bear markets will, for a period of time bring to the forefront, both of those crises, we'll hear lots of stories about retirees whose retirement plans either went bust or 401k plans that went down by 50%. But as always, with retirement crisis, it never seems to be critical or severe enough in the moment to cause politicians to create solutions for it. And my guess is we'll continue to see that in the future as well. 

Steve McCourt  16:38  

It's - it's going to be a growing problem with more and more baby boomers retiring, and I'm not sure it's going to be the number one, two, or three problem for long enough on the forefront of politicians’ minds to get real structural change done, and so we might just see more of the same, which is marginal policy solutions kicking the can down the road. And you know, all in the meanwhile, you have people with less and less retirement savings and more and more anxiety about how to retire with financial comfort.

Traci Dority-Shanklin  17:15  

So, switching gears, so as more complex and diverse investment strategies or have been adopted for multiemployer plans, how has the role of consultants changed and/or, I guess, changed with the consultants?

Steve McCourt  17:33  

So, I think it's changed in a couple of ways. One has to do with kind of how pension funds are governed, and the other is kind of more directly investment complexity. With respect to how pension funds are governed Taft-Hartley pension plans, I'd say that the biggest change is culturally. Relative to 15, 20 years ago, the investment portfolio for pension plans today is much more directed by consultants as opposed to boards directly. And I think that has to do with the complexity issue. 

Steve McCourt  18:14  

Twenty years ago, it was much easier as a trustee to understand asset allocation and investment strategies when those strategies included equity and fixed income portfolios. To your point, in today's world largely driven by the need for ever higher returns without catastrophic levels of risk in the portfolio strategies and asset allocation paradigms are more complex, and so it's much, much harder for a non-investment professional to feel comfortable making significant decisions with significant consequences about investment portfolios. So over time, I think more and more of the investment decisions that pension plans need to make, rely on the sort of sophisticated analysis and recommendations of consultants - and the room for trustee input - it's still there, but it's probably less than it was 20 years ago. 

Steve McCourt  19:19  

For consulting firm perspective, what the complexity has brought is a significant change in the resources needed to be a successful consultant. In the - the 90s when I started in this industry, consulting was sort of a cult of personality business. You could get hired by Taft-Hartley plans as a smart, experienced investment professional, and they were hiring a person. They weren't necessarily hiring a firm. Today, there's so many demands on consultants in terms of reporting, and monitoring, and governance regulatory items, investment complexity, boards make decisions on consultants - to a certain extent still on the people that they're working with every day - the client team, but the resources of the company means a lot more. And so, it's harder to compete as a smaller consulting firm that doesn't have sufficient resources to do all the diligence and to do all the analysis that's required for today's prudent investor. 

Steve McCourt  20:28  

So, I think to get to your question, I think those - those two trends, which have kind of slowly evolved over the last couple of decades - means that today, Taft-Hartley plans are leaning on their consultants more than they did in the past, and in the extreme, some are even outsourcing investment portfolios to consultants and investment consultants. The boards are favoring investment consultants that are larger than they were two decades ago.

Traci Dority-Shanklin  20:58  

This is a little bit of a digression, but how much of the OCIO, the outside Chief Investment Officer, work is Meketa doing?

Steve McCourt  21:10  

So, we have, let's say about a fifth of our clients or so engages on some form of outsourced engagement, where Meketa has delegated authority with respect to manager selection.

Traci Dority-Shanklin  21:25  

Is the OCIO, because it's something it's a - it's fairly new from - from my perspective, I don't understand it completely in terms of the role, but is this like just basically discretion over the entire fund or is it usually targeted to certain investment strategies?

Steve McCourt  21:45  

For us, it can be either, so it's when - when trustees ask us about our ability to make investment decisions on their behalf. Sometimes, they look for us to make all the decisions across all asset classes. Sometimes, it's just specific to certain asset classes and when it's specific to certain asset classes more often than not, it's related to the more complicated asset classes: private equity; real estate; hedge funds; etc. So, it's really a governance question for the boards in essentially all cases, the boards retain control over asset allocation and investment policy. 

Steve McCourt  22:27  

So, the outsourcing is - is always limited to the policies that have been adopted by the board. So the outsource consultant when you outsource the - the investment management isn't managing the assets without guidelines or constraints. There's very clear expectations for the asset classes that will be used to target allocations to the asset classes. What's generally outsourced is the selection of investment managers within asset classes, and the ability to shift capital across manager portfolios, which allows positioning to occur more quickly and reduces the liability for the plan sponsor.

Traci Dority-Shanklin  23:10  

Yeah, I just wondered, given the question before and the increased role that consultants have taken to your point, if that was becoming more relevant to companies like Meketa or not, it's just a question. 

Steve McCourt  23:26  

I think the certain sectors where it's more common, so in the Taft-Hartley world, I'd say it's the vast majority of funds don't outsource their investments. But I'd say the trend is for more and more to do so. So, it's the interest in it is growing, but from a small base. [With] Endowments, the outsource model has been much more prominent for a long time. And it's also growing in prominence there as well. And in corporate single employer pension plans, I'd say it's almost the norm to have outsourced engagements. With public pension systems, you rarely see it at all. So that the decision to outsource to a consultant is interestingly - is very different depending on kind of what sector the traditional marketplace one looks at. 

Steve McCourt  24:19  

In the - the Taft-Hartley world, it's - it's a small part of the market but growing, and I would expect with the, you know, one interesting part of the Coronavirus in this bear market is not only has it affected capital markets, but it's affected pension funds operations at a very ground level. You know, the ability to cut pension checks and to run call centers has been really challenged operationally, as has the ability to have board meetings and to make decisions, and so I suspect that the movement towards allocating more discretion over certain investment decisions to consultants will - will progress forward through this environment as it's harder for boards of trustees to get together to meet.

Traci Dority-Shanklin  25:09  

Yeah, I think operational you make a very good point about the operational difficulties of these funds. And which leads me to a question I - you know, a lot of the listeners on this podcast are investment managers like myself, and what do you think things like that? I mean, that I think that's extremely good information for us to understand because we often forget about all of the moving parts and is there any other things that you think would be really helpful for investment managers to understand as they look at managing money and this Taft-Hartley space?

Steve McCourt  25:48  

Related to the Coronavirus?

Traci Dority-Shanklin  25:50  

I think related to the Coronavirus because I think everything has shifted, you know, and the way in which we're going to do business going forward I think is also shifting in general. Especially for those of us who are client service, you know, aggregators, so we're talking to people and wanting to work with them, but it's shifting things in terms of getting to meetings seeing people face-to-face.

Steve McCourt  26:15  

Yeah, I think there's lots of parts of our lives that are likely to change permanently as a part of this. So, I do think that to a certain extent, the genies out of the bottle with respect to virtual meetings and face-to-face meetings, it's probably too early to say this, but my quick observation is that boards of trustees, while they'd rather meet in person, the virtual meeting has worked better than most people thought it would. And so, I have to imagine that as we exit this environment at some point in the future, there's going to be many, many more funds that just choose to operate more or less virtually because it saves on costs. It's a lot easier for everyone involved, and the technology seems to work reasonably well. 

Steve McCourt  27:06  

So, you know, that definitely reduces for consultants, a lot of face-to-face contact with trustees. For managers who would see trustees when they present formally at board meetings, as you know, that was much more common 10 or 15 years ago than it is today. I think it's going to be even less common in the future after this. And without having a crystal ball on this, I would have to imagine that this environment is going to sort of accelerate the trends of boards relying more on consultants to - to have those communications with managers to report activities to boards directly. And the ability for managers to interact directly with trustees and boards is probably going to be, you know, even further diminished in the future. That's just a guess.

Traci Dority-Shanklin  27:56  

Do you envision there being a shift in the type of reporting that consultants will want from managers for the frequency? 

Steve McCourt  28:06  

I haven't seen that yet. As you know, by necessity, meetings with managers that we typically do in-person, I've all shifted to - to webinars. I think there's going to be more use of client portals technologically where research staff at consulting firms can go into a secure portal to review all the necessary data and information related to client portfolios or operational components of asset managers. And I think boards of trustees will start demanding more client portals from consultants, and their fund offices to access virtually information that they otherwise used to receive in paper form at meetings. 

Steve McCourt  28:53  

So, I think technologically there's going to be a lot more use of secure websites to communicate information and disseminate material to - to consultants and to boards. I would have to imagine, Traci, that, you know, in the context of that the use of webinars and other internet content, podcasts, etc., are going to be more widely used in the future as opposed to, you know, the traditional quarterly letter and pitchbook that has been used forever. So, I think the content - the nature of the content may - may change as well. 

Steve McCourt  29:31  

The other thing I wanted to highlight all the changes to the business for money managers to be aware of is the nature of marketing will change. It's quite possible coming out of this, the types of investment solutions that clients demand will change as well. And that's true of every bear market. There's always novel ideas that arise out of bear markets, and I think this will be no different than others. And for boards of trustees by far the most significant long-term challenge that we see so far from the Coronavirus is not on the equity side, although that may yet prove quite challenging, it's on the fixed income side with interest rates. 

Steve McCourt  30:14  

With the Federal Reserve having come in so aggressively and along with the ECB and the Bank of Japan, essentially communicate to the global capital markets that interest rates, both at the long and the short end of the curve can be expected to be around zero percent for a long time really changes the nature of fixed income within a pension plan. And it changes you know, how people think about pension plans. So, I think there's bound to be a lot of potential solutions out there that investment managers can add that have it; they have the R&D budgets to produce; they have the R&D budgets to - to test; and I think there's a lot of opportunity around that for the managers that kind of figure out this extraordinarily low interest rate paradigm for pension plans.

Traci Dority-Shanklin  31:04  

Yeah, that's a big one. It feels like a massive hill to climb, but I'm sure it's a lot simpler for those who run in that world. 

Steve McCourt  31:13  

Yeah.

Traci Dority-Shanklin  31:14  

So, is there - do you think there's any good news that's gonna come out of this economic crisis? I mean, I feel like in some ways, some of the things that you've said could be, I could see spinning them as good news. I mean, for the fixed income, you know, for the companies that are out there that already are in that world and living that that this might be a really wonderful opportunity or anything else like that that you think might come out of the crisis, or in general? 

Steve McCourt  31:42  

I think, first of all, you know, one of the really positive things that we see immediately out of this is not just that the technology has more or less worked in order to conduct business virtually, but that consultants, other vendors, boards of trustees seem on the whole, comfortable operating in a virtual environment; I think means that these plans can save a lot of costs in the future. I think, you know, to a certain extent this - this might have been the - the nudge that our industry needed to kind of move towards technological solutions in a lot of these areas because they've been around for a while, but the governance structure of pension plans really hasn't changed in 40 years. 

Steve McCourt  32:29  

So, I think the use of technology is going to be a net win for pension plans, how they operate, even flowing down to the beneficiaries in their ability to get more timely information than - than they had in the past. I think another possible positive for the pension industry, but still a little too early to tell, kind of going back to the pension bailout question is this coronavirus outbreak and the fiscal and monetary response to it has pushed us forward with a giant leap towards what some economists have termed modern monetary theory, which essentially, is the theory that governments should be much less concerned with the amount of debt that governments hold, or for that matter corporations or individuals, as that debt can be extinguished by the Central Bank, if it would like to, and in the absence of inflation, which we haven't seen in 40 years, governments should be much more willing to take on debt to support demand in the economy. 

Steve McCourt  33:38  

It's a very controversial theory and the debate on it is happening sort of inside theoretical classrooms today, but we've already seen some of the - the movement towards modern monetary theory and the policy actions of the federal government since Coronavirus. You know, most - most notably, you know, by the fact that it - it looks like our federal government deficit will be four to $5 trillion this year, which will be a number which just 10 years ago probably would have caused bond market yields to go up 400 basis points. 

Steve McCourt  34:15  

And today, bond yields have absorbed that information and have stayed near zero percent. And they've done that because the markets have a lot of credibility and the Fed - Feds ability to buy that debt when the US government issues that - that process of modern monetary theory frees up the federal government to do pension bailouts, to do subsidies to consumers, to do lots of things, to keep demand and the economy flowing and all the various ways it can support demand. That will be incredibly helpful for pension beneficiaries that rely on both strong and sound pension funds. But in turn, those pension funds rely on sound and strong corporate balance sheets for the companies that they invest in. 

Steve McCourt  35:03  

So, the movement away from tea party politics to government influenced macroeconomic policy is - is a really strong positive coming out of this. And it surprised me so far. And I'm hopeful that it'll continue to move forward. 

Traci Dority-Shanklin  35:20  

Great. So, is there anything else you'd like to add?

Steve McCourt  35:24  

There's probably a lot of directions we could go with this. I guess the one thing I'd want to make sure listeners were aware of is how truly early in this we are. It seems like, you know, as we record this today, on May 1, the markets have rebounded significantly since mid-March. But we've just started to scratch the surface on understanding what the economic impacts of the virus are to corporate America, and the initial scratching has revealed dramatic uncertainty and dramatic declines in revenue and earnings for most of the world. 

Steve McCourt  36:04  

So, you know, at the margin, there's some favorable news on the virus in terms of our ability to flatten the curve. There's some good news in terms of stimulus from the federal government and central banks. Arguably, we haven't even started to experience the recession yet. We're still so early in this. And so I think the hope for a V-shaped recovery is just that. It's hope. 

Steve McCourt  36:34  

The experience we have with recessions would say, based on how the economy created jobs in 2009, 10, 11, in 2003, four and five, and in 1990, two, three, and four at the past recovery periods. It may take four or five years to get unemployment back to reasonable levels in the economy. So, I think I would encourage your listeners to think about this not as a one time shock to the capital markets, but also a longer term process that has to work through the economy.

Traci Dority-Shanklin  37:09  

That's great. Well, this has been a fantastic conversation, and I so appreciate your willingness to share your thoughts and insights with our listeners. And I thank you again for your time. And thank you to everyone who is listening.

Steve McCourt  37:25  

Great. Thanks, Traci. I really enjoyed it and all the best.

Traci Dority-Shanklin  37:28  

Yes, you as well. Stay safe. 

Narrator  37:30  

And that's it for this week's episode of The World of Multiemployer Benefit Funds podcast. We would love to hear from you, and if you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, head over to www.multiemployerfunds.com, and let us know. Tom and Traci, thank you for joining us, and we look forward to next time. 

Narrator  37:52  

For even more information and resources, head over now to www.multiemployerfunds.com and get involved. The World of Multiemployer Benefit Funds podcast - unlocking the mysteries of multiemployer benefit funds.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai