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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: It was hard to pay attention to anything other than politics last week, but we’re trying our best to keep a focus on the economy. Economic activity appears robust from the earnings reports that we’re reading. Even the hardest-hit industries appear to be performing much better than expected. The tech industries that surged may be normalizing though. We’re getting a strong new surge in Covid cases, but people seem to feel more prepared than they did last spring.

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The Transcript

Succinct Summary: The economy continues its two speed recovery, but there are some signs that growth may be slowing.  Even companies that benefitted from the pandemic, like Netflix, are seeing the after-effect of demand that was pulled forward to earlier in the year.  Elections will be a key source of uncertainty in the coming weeks.  And COVID infections are stubbornly high.  But consumers are going crazy at home.

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The Transcript

Succinct Summary: The economy has had a strong but incomplete recovery.  The worst seems to be over but there’s still a long way to go.  For many industries, this looks like a K shaped recovery.

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The Transcript

Succinct Summary: The economy has improved a lot since the bottom, and headline economic activity is nearing a full recovery.  However, the recovery has not been shared equally.  There have been a small number of big economic winners and a much larger number of economic losers from COVID.  This will help keep the government pushing for more stimulus for a long time.  In the past, this stimulus has tended to help the winners even more.

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The Transcript

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 first few weeks of September are usually filled with conferences where companies talk about long term industry trends.  This year it’s hard to look long term because things have been moving so fast.  Still, the Covid rush seems to have calmed down some and the US is getting comfortable with a new normal.  The big question on people’s minds: do we ever get back to the old normal?

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The Transcript

Succinct Summary: The last week of summer before labor day is usually one of the slowest weeks of the year but this year it feels like things are moving at an incredibly fast pace.  Companies are looking to the future and beginning to permanently rationalize their cost structure.  Business travel budgets are likely to be cut for a long time.  Temporary layoffs are also becoming permanent.  In the near term economic activity is still very strong though.  We’re seeing a terrific end of the summer.  And the Fed is hoping it stays that way in the fall.

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The Transcript

Succinct Summary: There were a lot of major data points about the economy last week but the biggest news of all seemed to be just how well tech companies did despite the massive economic dislocation.  In a quarter where GDP fell at a 33% annualized rate, Apple managed to grow revenue by 11%!  Stimulus probably played some role in tech companies’ strong performance, but beyond the stimulus is the fact that COVID has pushed everyone to spend even more time at home and on the internet.  The behavioral shifts appear to be long-lasting too.  20 years after the dot com bubble, the internet is still not done reshaping society.

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The Transcript

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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