This week in charts
This is the perfect time to look unconventional, just like in 1999. At today’s valuation spreads, the opportunity set is actually even better. And for those portfolios that are essentially benchmark-agnostic, we believe the opportunity set is the best we’ve seen in our working careers.
In 2020, the economy was destroyed by Covid-19; unemployment went from historic lows to historic highs in a matter of weeks. That should have reasonably dampened the market’s optimistic mood. But it didn’t (after the initial shock of March). The current valuation of the S&P 500 is actually higher than it was pre-Covid-19, which is dangerously odd given the sheer amount of uncertainty that exists (e.g., the shape of the economic recovery, the availability and efficacy of a vaccine, the risk of a second wave, U.S. citizens not adopting safety protocols, just to name a few).
The real worrisome signs, however, are the increasing silly behaviors of a speculative market. Exhibit 7 is a prime example of the aggressive trading activity of retail investors.
If household savings had grown in line with the recent pre-pandemic trend, Americans would have socked away about $2.2 trillion since the start of 2019. Instead, cumulative savings over that time period are worth just over $3.5 trillion. The difference—about $1.3 trillion—could pay for 9% of all the consumer spending that happened in 2019.
Below are the IEA’s projections for electricity’s share of final energy consumption if countries stay on their current course (“Stated Policies Scenario”) and if countries meet the Paris Agreement goals (“Sustainable Development Scenario”). Under both scenarios, electricity’s share grows, but even under the Paris Agreement scenario its share is only 31% of total energy consumption by 2040. Under the Stated Policies Scenario it grows from 20% today to 24% by 2040.