Lately, the economy has looked as volatile as the stock market: up for a few weeks and then back down again. This is generally attributed to the reopening of the country in early May, followed by what looks to be a gradual and sporadic reclosing due to an upswing in outbreaks of the coronavirus. In early July, Raphael Bostic, president of the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank, observed that recent signals show the economic recovery is in danger of stalling.1
This volatile economic environment makes it difficult for money managers who publish midyear market comments, because the outlook could change by the time those reports are published. As always, whenever you read advice and predictions from financial professionals, it’s important to view recommendations within the context of your own goals, circumstances and investment portfolio. If you’d like to discuss any potential midyear changes in your strategy, please contact us to schedule a review.
Like most industry analysts, T. Rowe Price cautions that the trajectory in the equity and credit markets will depend on containment of the virus. Most analysts agree that economic recovery is dependent on “flattening the curve” of contagion. The good news is that T. Rowe analysts believe tech companies have accelerated in both growth and market power by several years due to remote-work demands. However, much depends on how well some of our global partners respond to the health crisis. This variable could cause U.S. distributors to rethink their corporate finances and supply chains.2
Charles Schwab’s midyear outlook acknowledges that much of the market’s gains since the first outbreak of COVID-19 can be attributed to the Federal Reserve’s decision to cut interest rates and the fiscal stimulus passed by Congress. However, it is unlikely that we will see additional significant fiscal initiatives moving forward, so the market is likely to start pricing based on a real growth rate that represents lost output from consumer goods and services. With that said, high unemployment rates and low inflation are likely to continue driving quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve, which is currently increasing its balance sheet by $120 billion a month in treasuries and mortgage-backed securities.3
The chief investment officer at Merrill Lynch offers a bullish perspective for the immediate future. Their analysts believe that the markets are in the early stages of another long-term bull session with above-average valuations. They favor equities relative to fixed income and cash, as well as the prospects of global equities since many countries have rebounded from the pandemic and show signs of acceleration.4
Morgan Stanley also maintains a positive outlook. Based on recent market resiliency, their analysts believe a new cycle has started and that a U.S. recovery may be more “normal” than widely predicted. In fact, analysts maintain the economy will recover by early 2021, driven by global gross domestic product with 3% growth for the year.5
The Capital Group keeps its outlook simple: The markets will remain volatile through the rest of the year. However, it believes that investors are better off weathering the storm in the market than sitting on the sidelines, as recent downturns have demonstrated that when the market does rebound, it remains stronger, longer.6