The US economy is surging and life is returning to normal. Consumers have healthy balance sheets and inflation is a hot topic. Companies in hard-hit industries are even talking about having a difficult time finding staff. The Fed seems to be seeing a different picture of the economy though and has no intention of tapering pandemic era stimulus until it’s clear that the economy has returned to maximum employment and inflation is running above 2%.
Animal spirits are driving momentum across the economy, especially in capital markets. There’s hundreds of billions of dollars waiting to be invested via vehicles like SPACs. Valuations are extreme, yet they are justified by low interest rates. Meanwhile demand is exceeding supply in industries like semi-conductors, housing and transport. Companies are citing inflationary pressures. But the Fed and Treasury are united behind continued stimulus. “We have the tools to deal with that risk.”
Succinct Summary: Consumer spending remains strong and Black Friday was successful. A third wave of COVID has made the near term outlook worse, but the medium to long term looks much brighter thanks to vaccines. Tech spending continues to outpace overall GDP growth and probably will continue to surge after the pandemic is over. The driver of spending has moved from devices towards data infrastructure and management.
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Succinct Summary: The Covid-19 pandemic is an unprecedented global challenge unlike anything that we’ve seen for 100 years. It is like a war with an invisible enemy. It requires coordination and cooperation from all of us. Many industries like airlines and restaurants are seeing their businesses disappear overnight. But the economic impact is nothing compared to the human impact if we don’t act. Hospital systems are already being stretched to their limits and the worst may still be ahead. Let’s hope not. Our best hope of averting that fate is to buy ourselves time via social distancing and break down regulatory barriers for potential treatments. (Go to Covidactnow.org to see how important social distancing is in the US).