Daily new cases of COVID-19 continue to spike upwards, warning of further shutdowns as medical facilities are overrun.
The latest labor report disappointed, especially as the November survey came before the latest round of layoffs after states imposed tighter restrictions.
Payroll growth flattened, leaving total payroll down 5.99% compared to November last year.
Hours worked are slightly more encouraging, down 4.68% on an annual basis, compared to -2.9% change in real GDP.
Encouraging news on the vaccine front but “when you hear the cavalry is coming to your rescue, you don’t stop shooting. You redouble your efforts.” (Dr Anthony Fauci)
Progress in manufacturing vaccines that will soon be widely available has buoyed stocks despite the dismal economic outlook. The S&P 500 made new highs, assisted by hopes of further stimulus and ultra-low interest rates. The large megaphone pattern is a poor indicator of future direction but does flag unusual volatility.
Growth in the big five technology stocks has slowed in recent months, with only Alphabet (GOOGL) breaking above its September high. Too early to tell, but failure of market leaders to make new highs is typical of the late stages of a bull market.
Vaccines should succeed in flattening the third wave and suppressing future outbreaks but are unlikely to succeed in restoring the economy to normalcy.
Federal debt is at a record 123% of GDP and growing. Further stimulus is required to support the still-fragile recovery.
The Fed will continue to expand its balance sheet to support Treasury issuance.
Ultra-low interest rates are likely to stay for a number of years.
If massive federal debt, QE and ultra-low interest rates does not cause a spike in inflation, that will encourage authorities to push the envelope even further (we fear this would have disastrous consequences).
Unemployment is expected to remain high and GDP growth likely to remain low.
Zombie corporations and commercial real estate with unsustainable debt levels will continue to be a drag on economic growth.
Growth stocks are expected to remain overpriced relative to current and future earnings.