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Visualizing the Length and Growth of Every Modern Bull Market

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This Markets in a Minute chart is available as a poster.

Visualizing the Length and Growth of Every Modern Bull Market

This Markets in a Minute chart is available as a poster.

The Length and Growth of Every Modern Bull Market

Since 2009, U.S. stocks have sustained the longest bull market in modern history, with the S&P 500 rising by 400%.

Dubbed the “Long, Slow Recovery”, its name can be taken quite literally. At 131 months and counting, it’s the longest of its kind by a margin of 18 months. It’s also one of the slowest growing bull markets in history, compounding at a 16% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).

Today’s Markets In A Minute chart comes from New York Life Investments, which illustrates the length and growth of every U.S. bull market since World War II. From this, we can begin to recognize that bull markets vary quite significantly.

Tale of the Tape

Bull markets—which occur when stocks rise 20% above their low point—have happened 12 times in the S&P 500 since World War II. Here’s how they compare to one another.

NameLength
(months)
Total S&P 500 Change (%)Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR)
World War II (1942-1946)49158%26%
Post-war Boom (1949-1956)86266%20%
Cold War Ramps Up (1957-1961)5086%16%
JFK Aims to "Get America Moving Again" (1962-1966)4480%17%
The Go-go Years (1966-1968)2648%20%
Nifty Fifty (1970-1973)3274%23%
A Modest Bull (1974-1980)74126%14%
Reaganomics (1982-1987)60229%27%
Black Monday Comeback (1987-1990)3165%21%
Roaring 90s (1990-2000)113417%19%
Housing Boom (2002-2007)60102%15%
Long, Slow Recovery* (2009-Present)131400%16%

*Figures are as of Feb. 13, 2020
Source: CNBC, Yahoo Finance

Different Recipe, Same Result

History has shown us that bull markets can arise from a variety of scenarios. Here’s how some of the most significant ones came to fruition.

World War II (1942-1946)

Following the attack on Pearl Harbor, America mobilized for war. As government spending climbed, several agencies were established to regulate and control the economy.

These measures led to the creation of 17 million jobs, and brought the U.S. unemployment rate to a record low of just 1.2%. While corporate profits after taxes doubled, income grew for virtually all Americans—manufacturing workers, for example, saw their real incomes rise by nearly a quarter from 1940 to 1945.

It is for these reasons, among others, that the World War II bull market boasts a 26% CAGR, one of the largest in modern history.

Reaganomics (1982-1987)

The bull market of 1982 to 1987 was ushered in by Ronald Reagan’s Economic Recovery Tax Act (ERTA), a historic set of policies based on “supply-side economics”, now famously known as Reaganomics.

Supply-side economics are based on the theory that reducing taxes incentivizes individuals and businesses to produce more. Thus, the ultimate goal of ERTA was to encourage American innovation and entrepreneurship. In practice, this meant reducing marginal tax rates—the top marginal tax rate fell from 70% to 50%, while the lowest rate fell from 14% to 11%.

These cuts were a powerful ingredient for the making of another bull market. The S&P 500 grew by 229% over 60 months, resulting in a record-breaking CAGR of 27%.

Roaring 90s (1990-2000)

Yet another appropriately named bull market, the Roaring 90s lasted an impressive 113 months and generated a mammoth 417% total gain in the S&P 500—the largest in history.

While overall economic growth was robust, the focal point of this bull market was the beginning of the Internet Age and emergence of dot-com companies. Despite weak fundamentals and high valuations, investors poured money into internet startups with high hopes of long-run profitability.

Looking Into The Crystal Ball

While it’s inevitable that the “Long, Slow Recovery” will one day come to an end, this record-breaking bull market has so far proven us wrong. For example, in 2016, a multivariate model designed by economists at JP Morgan predicted the chance of recession within three years to be 92%.

Perhaps this prediction was off because the market environment today is so fundamentally different. With the advent of big tech, five companies now comprise 18% of the S&P 500. Collectively, these five companies (Microsoft, Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook) have seen their market capitalizations grow by nearly $5 trillion since 2013.

Regardless of what happens, one thing is true: markets will continue to surprise us.

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Markets in a Minute

Infrastructure Megatrends: The Clean Energy Transition

Governments are keen to make the transition to clean energy, but what will it take to get there? In this chart, we examine two scenarios through 2050.

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Infrastructure Megatrends: The Clean Energy Transition

Demand for clean energy is ramping up as a majority of countries target 2050 as the year to achieve net-zero emissions. But how much will this all cost?

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), upwards of $100 trillion is needed to build a system capable of keeping global temperatures from rising above 2C° (3.6F°).

In this Markets in a Minute chart from New York Life Investments, we take a closer look at the outcomes of such a massive endeavor.

Investment Required to Reshape Global Energy Markets

The IRENA believes there are two scenarios for how the clean energy transition plays out by 2050.

Their first scenario involves a total investment of $95 trillion (112% of global GDP in 2020) and is based on current policies and targets. Despite the lofty amount, this scenario is expected to fall short in achieving the goals set by the Paris Agreement.

Their second scenario involves a more ambitious set of targets, as well as a 16% larger investment of $110 trillion. Thanks to economies of scale, this scenario will reduce carbon emissions much further and keep the global temperature rise below 2C° (3.6F°).

The estimates behind these two scenarios are outlined in the table below.

 Current SituationScenario 1 ($95T in investment)Scenario 2 ($110T in investment)
Renewable Share in Electricity Generation26%55%86%
Electrification Share of Final Energy20%30%49%
Energy-Related CO2 Emissions (gigatonnes)34gt 33gt
9.5gt

How Do We Get There?

For scenario 2 to become reality, significant changes would need to be made across the entire economy.

For starters, the IRENA estimates that 1.1 billion electric vehicles will be on the road by 2050, up from 8 million in 2019. The resulting need for charging infrastructure is reflected by Scenario 2’s higher share of electrification (49% vs 30%).

Government subsidies around the world would also need to be adjusted, with much less money flowing to fossil fuels. The chart below provides a roadmap for these adjustments—on the left is the dollar value of subsidies, and on the right is each segment’s share of the total.

Government energy subsidies

Fossil fuel subsidies in the U.S. are facilitated through tax cuts, and are estimated to be worth around $20 billion per year. This may change very soon, as the Biden administration has signaled its intention to eliminate these subsidies as part of its 2021 tax plan.

With Great Change Comes Great Opportunity

The demand for clean energy is expected to kick-off a monumental transformation of the world’s infrastructure.

For investors, gaining exposure to this megatrend may combine attractive return potential with positive environmental impact. In fact, many listed companies in the utilities sector are establishing themselves as leaders in this regard.

Consider Enel, an Italian multinational with activities in Europe and the U.S. The firm has directed capital towards renewable energy since 2015 and is now the world’s largest player in renewables with 46GW of installed capacity across solar, wind, and hydro.

Further developments are planned, and Enel expects to grow its earnings (represented by EBITDA) at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 5%-6% over the next decade.

To learn more about the opportunities surrounding clean energy, consider this infographic on the global sustainable recovery.

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Can Foreign Currencies Act as an Inflation Hedge?

To determine if foreign currencies were a good inflation hedge, we looked at their performance relative to U.S. inflation over the last four decades.

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Inflation Hedge

This infographic is available as a poster.

Can Foreign Currencies Act as an Inflation Hedge?

Inflation is like corrosion. Initially, it can make investment returns less attractive. Over time, it can significantly eat away at an investment’s value. For U.S. investors looking for an inflation hedge, holding foreign currencies may be one option.

But just how effective are they at managing inflation risk? In this Markets in a Minute chart from New York Life Investments, we look at how the performance of foreign currencies compared to U.S. inflation rates over the last four decades.

How to Hedge Against Inflation

Inflation reduces the value of a dollar over time. To manage this risk, investors look for returns that are higher than the inflation rate. For example, a currency that appreciates 6% during 2% inflation may be considered a relatively good inflation hedge.

What makes a currency appreciate? A currency will perform well against the U.S. dollar if investors consider the issuing economy to be strong. This is because foreign investors will look to purchase investments in the applicable currency, driving up its demand.

Foreign Currency Appreciation vs. U.S. Inflation

Here is how the four largest non-U.S. reserve currencies have performed from 1981-2020. We measured a foreign currency’s appreciation against the U.S. dollar using annual exchange rates. U.S. inflation was measured by the percentage change in the average consumer price index for all urban consumers. Neither metric was seasonally adjusted.

YearAverage U.S. InflationEuropean euroChinese yuanJapanese yenBritish pound
20201.2%1.9%0.1%2.1%0.5%
20191.8%-5.6%-4.5%1.3%-4.7%
20182.4%4.4%2.2%1.5%3.5%
20172.1%2.0%-1.8%-3.2%-5.2%
20161.3%-0.2%-5.7%10.2%-12.8%
20150.1%-19.8%-2.0%-14.5%-7.9%
20141.6%0.1%-0.2%-8.3%5.1%
20131.5%3.2%2.6%-22.3%-1.4%
20122.1%-8.3%2.4%-0.2%-1.2%
20113.1%4.8%4.5%9.2%3.7%
20101.6%-5.1%0.9%6.3%-1.4%
2009-0.3%-5.7%1.7%9.4%-18.4%
20083.8%6.9%8.7%12.2%-8.0%
20072.9%8.4%4.6%-1.3%7.9%
20063.2%0.9%2.7%-5.6%1.3%
20053.4%0.1%1.0%-1.8%-0.7%
20042.7%9.0%0.0%6.7%10.8%
20032.3%16.5%0.0%7.4%8.1%
20021.6%5.3%0.0%-3.0%4.2%
20012.8%-3.1%0.0%-12.8%-5.3%
20003.4%-15.4%0.0%5.2%-6.7%
19992.2%N/A0.3%13.2%-2.5%
19981.5%N/A0.2%-8.2%1.2%
19972.3%N/A0.2%-11.3%4.7%
19962.9%N/A0.4%-15.8%-1.1%
19952.8%N/A3.1%8.0%3.0%
19942.6%N/A-49.5%8.0%2.0%
19933.0%N/A-4.7%12.4%-17.6%
19923.0%N/A-3.5%5.8%-0.1%
19914.2%N/A-11.3%7.2%-0.9%
19905.4%N/A-27.2%-5.0%8.2%
19894.8%N/A-1.0%-7.7%-8.7%
19884.1%N/A0.0%11.4%7.9%
19873.6%N/A-7.8%14.1%10.5%
19861.9%N/A-17.6%29.4%11.6%
19853.5%N/A-26.3%-0.4%-3.0%
19844.4%N/A-17.6%0.0%-13.4%
19833.2%N/A-4.4%4.6%-15.3%
19826.2%N/A-11.0%-12.9%-15.8%
198110.4%N/A--2.7%-14.8%

Note: The euro was created in 1999, which is why annual appreciation data against the U.S. dollar is not applicable prior to 2000. The Chinese yuan / U.S. dollar foreign exchange rate was not available for 1980, which is why annual appreciation for 1981 is unavailable.

The Best and Worst Inflation Hedges, Historically

Based on available data, here is the percentage of time each currency’s annual appreciation was greater than the U.S. inflation rate.

European euroChinese yuanJapanese yenBritish pound
43%18%48%33%

The Japanese yen acted as the best inflation hedge, with its annual appreciation beating U.S. inflation 48% of the time. Demand for the safe haven currency has historically been strong for three main reasons:

  • After the Japanese banking crisis of the late 1990s, the government introduced a number of policy measures. This helped Japan enter the global financial crisis with a relatively stable banking system.
  • Japan is the largest creditor nation, meaning the value of foreign assets held by Japanese investors is higher than the value of Japanese assets owned by foreign investors. In times of market uncertainty, the money of Japanese investors tends to return home—driving up demand for the yen.
  • To take advantage of near-zero interest rates in Japan, investors conduct “carry trades” where they borrow funds in Japan and lend or invest in countries where returns are higher. During turbulent markets, investors may unwind these trades, furthering demand for the yen.

The Chinese yuan has been the worst inflation hedge, with the yuan’s appreciation beating U.S. inflation only 18% of the time since 1982. This is perhaps not surprising, given that the yuan was pegged against the U.S. dollar in 1994 to keep the yuan low and make China’s exports competitive.

In 2005, China moved to a “managed float” system where the price of the yuan is allowed to fluctuate in a narrow band relative to a basket of foreign currencies. This shift led to the yuan appreciating against the U.S. dollar in some years.

The Risks of Currency as an Inflation Hedge

As the chart makes clear, investing in foreign currencies can be very volatile. Not only can currency depreciation lead to losses, there are additional factors for investors to consider such as geopolitical risks.

Of course, the effectiveness of foreign currencies as an inflation hedge depends on their attractiveness relative to the U.S. dollar. If a country is also affected by the factors causing U.S. inflation—such as an increase in the money supply—its currency could be negatively affected.

Given the uncertainties associated with this strategy, investors may want to consider foreign currencies alongside other asset classes to help manage inflation risk.

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