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The Year in Review: 2020 was an unprecedented year and The Transcript covered the economy throughout all of its twists and turns. Even though China was battling Covid in 2019, no one really knew what was in store for all of us in 2020. Technology, capital markets, and housing were three industries that boomed. While the stimulus was integral, the economic hero of 2020 was the US consumer. Optimism is high that 2021 will be a more normal year.

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The Transcript

Succinct Summary: Pfizer announced that its vaccine is 90% effective and that gave a boost to market confidence. The vaccine could be great news for the industry and great news for society. Pfizer says that it will have over 1B doses ready next year. The vaccine could lead to some reflationary outcomes.

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Succinct Summary: Earnings season kicked off this week.  The nation’s big banks reported earnings and for the most part provided positive economic commentary.  We are seeing a return to a generally sound economy and confidence has improved a lot.  Credit performance has been much better than expected and if nothing changes banks probably have a lot of excess reserves.  The election creates the potential for near-term volatility but the end of the pandemic is hopefully in sight.

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Succinct Summary: This has been an incredibly difficult operating environment but we’re all learning to live in a world with Covid.  Economic activity is much better than anyone expected and government officials are pushing for even more stimulus.  The Fed expects to keep interest rates at zero until 2023.

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The Transcript

Succinct Summary: The Great Recession of ’08 pales in comparison to the kind of recession that we have here. The UK just recorded the worst quarterly recession on record. The virus levels remain stubbornly high in many places. The hope comes from the modest recovery in some hard-hit industries. 

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Succinct Summary: The economy rebounded strongly in May and June with some important economic figures, like spending on debit and credit cards, being only down low single digits from last year. But the recovery is starting to stall out as infections rise and now everyone is planning for Covid to last longer than initially expected.  The figures are being distorted by massive government stimulus though.  And it’s not clear what happens when that stimulus runs out even as markets seem to be betting on more stimulus.

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Succinct Summary: The modern economy has never experienced economic carnage on the scale of COVID19.  US GDP is forecast to fall by 30-40% while unemployment is likely to rise to 20-30%.  What matters though, is how long it lasts.  A 30% rate of decline in production for a quarter is different from a 30% decline for a whole year.  As public attention seems to turn from the virus to the economy, debate is on whether we will see a V-shaped recovery or not.  There are lots of reasons why we are unlikely to see such a rapid recovery but there are also glimmers of economic hope.  Still, the path of the economy seems to pale in comparison to the importance of the path of humanity.

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Succinct Summary: The next two weeks could be very painful for the US but hopefully we are approaching the peak for the growth of infections.  Still, the economy could be locked down for a long time and no one really knows how things will look as we come out of this.  It’s hard to keep the consumer down.

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Succinct Summary: It is quite clear by now that we are in a recession. The hope is that this is a different kind of recession and that we will be out of it quickly. But that depends on the trajectory of containing the virus. The good news is that things in China look better after containing the virus.
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