“Christmas isn’t a season, it’s a feeling.” ~ Edna Ferber (1885-1968), American Novelist
As the holiday season comes into full swing, we reflect on 2020 activity and how the COVID-19 pandemic has inundated our lives. This year has been full of challenges and uncertainty, but there have been positive outcomes as well because as a whole, we are problem solvers. We will never minimize the real pain that this virus has brought to so many, yet it is helpful to focus on the recovery process.
If we ran an experiment and effectively shut down the global economy for two to three months in March–May, the percentage of people with jobs in the United States would fall by nearly 15%, interest rates would be near zero, and the economic decline would be worse than the Great Depression. What would you expect to happen to financial market returns? If you guessed that they’d be at all-time highs, you would be correct. That is the year that was 2020.
We’ll spare the details since you witnessed them. The global pandemic that gave us a scare quickly turned a bull market into a bear. Due to quick action by the Federal Reserve and Congress providing liquidity early on during the crisis, select sectors of the economy were able to adapt and move to the world of e–commerce and technology. There is no doubt that many around the world felt drained, yet big tech, tech, e-commerce, health care and communication services led the way out based on strength and growth.
As we close out this year, there are three themes evolving: A) Restocking inventory, B) Consumer savings finding its way into the economy through pent-up demand, and C) Work From Home or Work From Anywhere (WFA) is here to stay.
- Demand for goods and some services was stronger than expected. Inventory is unusually low and supply has been constrained. This is expected to drive manufacturing as inventories are restocked, boosting growth and transportation.
- With lockdowns in place, travel curtailed, businesses closed and overall economic activity reduced, consumer savings rates were up significantly in 2020. As vaccine distribution expands, it is expected that the savings rate trend will reverse. As the economy reopens, a great deal of pent-up demand will be unleased, likely increasing consumer demand and expenditures.
- Work From Home or Work From Anywhere is here to stay in many areas of the economy. What started as a grand experiment, has been declared a success. Technology infrastructure saved the day, allowing much of our economy to reinvent itself and find new ways to conduct business, placing a greater emphasis and focus on the meaning of the phrase “having all the comforts of home.”
This year, more than most, gratitude will be the focus of our Christmas Dinner and New Year’s Eve toast. Health and time with loved ones is a true measure of wealth.
Here’s my Christmas list for Santa:
- A reliable and affordable vaccine for COVID-19
- Unity in DC and the gift of stimulus for the economy
- Mortgage rates staying in the 3% range
- A return to 4% unemployment
- Five rings of gold are always appreciated
- A 6% bump in personal consumption
- Seven continents with increasing growth
- An eighth year of technology performance
- Nine months of cash in a stash for St. Nick
- Ten months of dashing returns for new highs
- All eleven equity sectors reaching new and higher vectors
- Twelve months of payrolls recovering
At this meaningful time of an unforgettable year, we wish you and those you hold close to your heart a healthy, hopeful and happy 2021. Stay focused and plan accordingly.
There is no assurance the “wishes” mentioned will occur. The opinions expressed are those of the writer as of December 16, 2020, but not necessarily those of Raymond James and Associates, and subject to change at any time. All information provided herein is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be, and should not be interpreted as, an offer, solicitation, or recommendation to buy or sell or otherwise invest in any of the securities/sectors/countries that may be mentioned. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected, including diversification and asset allocation. “Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.” This article provided by Darcie Guerin, CFP®, First Vice President, Investments & Branch Manager of Raymond James & Associates, Inc. Member New York Stock Exchange/SIPC 606 Bald Eagle Dr. Suite 401, Marco Island, FL 34145. She may be reached at 239–389-1041, email email@example.com. Website: www.raymondjames.com/Darcie.