Register For Our Mailing List

Register to receive our free weekly newsletter including editorials.

Home / 347

Welcome to Firstlinks Edition 347

  •   4 March 2020
  • 2

The workplace response to coronavirus is further evidence that companies are paying increasing attention to the health and welfare of their staff. Employment policies have become far more enlightened in recent years, such as offering care leave, paternity leave, stress counselling, work-from-home arrangements and meditation classes in the workplace. In dealing with the virus, for example, companies are cancelling business travel and encouraging video meetings.

However, there's far less focus overall on sleep patterns. After recently flying east from Sydney to Santiago for 15 hours during the day, arriving discombobulated at 9am, it emphasised the value of sleep and its role in efficient functioning in the workplace. Scientific evidence about sleep patterns now confirms that many people do not work optimally during the normal working period of 8 to 5.

Professor Till Roenneberg, a chronobiologist at Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich, is a leading researcher on sleep. He says:

“If you let people sleep within their own sleep windows and work during their optimal times, you could potentially shorten their working hours by 30%; with better sleep patterns people can be more productive.”

Let’s put more effort into recognising chronotypes, that is, the propensity of people to sleep at a particular time. Lack of sleep has a financial cost. It is estimated that 1% to 3% of GDP is lost due to poor sleep, based on research from RAND Corporation.

Map showing economic costs of insufficient sleep across five OECD countries

Source: Jess Plumridge/RAND Europe

This week, which culminates with International Women's Day on 8 March, Suzie Toohey discusses the latest online investor survey by Investment Trends. This shows encouraging growth in the number of women investors in Australia, and their desire for more investment knowledge. If you've ever wondered what it takes to gain good investing skills, we compare this to other professions.

The collective skills of Australian bank boards are also under the microscope, as Donald Hellyer's analysis finds they are lacking in several areas.

In a week where falling and rising financial markets suggest investors have shrugged off coronavirus complacency, Ashley Owen examines the reaction and describes the economic effect of major pandemics of the 20th century and beyond.

Michael Collins details the exciting, but probably distant, potential of quantum computing, and Andrew Stanley explains how tax treatment distinguishes separately managed accounts from other investment vehicles.

The Morningstar Fund Manager of the Year awards were presented last week, with Fidelity International taking the top honours alongside winners in global and domestic equities, fixed interest, listed property and multisector, as summarised by Emma Rapaport.

This week's White Paper is Channel Capital's recent three-part series on unconventional monetary policy and the lessons learned from Germany and Japan. There is an increasing likelihood that the Reserve Bank will head this way to help deal with the virus.


Graham Hand, Managing Editor

For a PDF version of this week’s newsletter articles, click here.



Most viewed in recent weeks

Why we’re not buying the market yet

The Australian market bounced back last Friday (13th) and Monday (16th) tempting analysts to call the bottom of the coronavirus scare. This is too early as the impact on companies is not yet evident.

Drawdown reductions needed for retirees - UPDATED POLICY

During the GFC, in the face of rapid falls in super balances, the minimum drawdowns required for pensions were reduced by 50% to help preserve overall retirement savings. It's time for a repeat.

What are the possible economic effects of COVID-19 on the world economy?

In a widely-quoted scenario using estimated attack and fatality rates of coronavirus, about 0.07% of the population of the US dies. That's about 230,000 people, which the market is not ready for.

Note to Australia: be more French in the COVID-19 war

Andrew Baker is well-known as a superannuation consultant. Now working in the UK, he was caught in France with his family and is in lockdown. He worries Australian policy was too slow.

Optimism among forecasts of the COVID-19 peak

This detailed analysis of infections, deaths, drugs and vaccines includes an optimistic scenario: perhaps US and Australian infection numbers will peak in early to mid-April with a decline after.

How stock markets recover and the perils of timing markets

Investors who try to time buying and selling shares risk missing the strongly positive days which drive good performance, while over the long term, stock markets will recover from price falls.

Latest Updates


How $200 billion is magically created

Australia is in a relatively good position to borrow $200 billion, with the RBA using printed money to buy bonds in the market. The long-term consequences are better than the alternative.

Investment strategies

Howard Marks' latest on 'Which way now?'

Howard Marks is the largest investor in the world in distressed securities. What does he think after checking the virus positives and negatives, and how much has he changed his mind in only a few days?

Latest from Morningstar

Four stages of a typical bear market - but is this typical?

Bear markets caused by recession fears follow a pattern, but we have never seen anything like coronavirus. If financial stimulus and medicine prove ineffective, all bets are off. 


Small business in path of COVID-19 tsunami

The turning point in this crisis will be when the number of new COVID-19 cases starts to decrease. Until then, can we mitigate the damage to businesses and the economy so that we can snap back?

Investment strategies

Why technology stocks are good for the future

Over the long term, the technology sector has a vital role to make the essential transition to a more sustainable global economy and a cleaner planet. We highlight a few names with strong prospects.



© 2020 Morningstar, Inc. All rights reserved.

The data, research and opinions provided here are for information purposes; are not an offer to buy or sell a security; and are not warranted to be correct, complete or accurate. Morningstar, its affiliates, and third party content providers are not responsible for any investment decisions, damages or losses resulting from, or related to, the data and analyses or their use.
Any general advice or class service prepared by Morningstar Australasia Pty Ltd (ABN: 95 090 665 544, AFSL: 240892) and/or Morningstar Research Ltd, subsidiaries of Morningstar, Inc, has been prepared by without reference to your objectives, financial situation or needs. Refer to our Financial Services Guide (FSG) for more information. You should consider the advice in light of these matters and if applicable, the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before making any decision to invest. Past performance does not necessarily indicate a financial product’s future performance. To obtain advice tailored to your situation, contact a professional financial adviser. Articles are current as at date of publication.
This website contains information and opinions provided by third parties. Inclusion of this information does not necessarily represent Morningstar’s positions, strategies or opinions and should not be considered an endorsement by Morningstar.