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Animated Map: An Economic Forecast for the COVID-19 Recovery (2020-21)

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Animation: An Economic Forecast for the COVID-19 Recovery (2020-21)

Economic Forecast

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

COVID-19 Recovery: A Global Economic Forecast

As governments enact COVID-19 containment measures, economies around the world have slowed to a crawl. Many people find themselves out of work, and businesses are struggling to stay afloat amid strict regulations and plummeting demand.

However, while current economic conditions are bleak, some forecasts for the upcoming recovery provide room for investor optimism. According to the most recent forecast from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it’s projected that the global economy will contract by 3% in 2020, followed by 5.8% growth in 2021.

In today’s Markets in a Minute from New York Life Investments, we take a look at the country-level economic forecast to highlight which areas may recover the fastest.

Emerging from The Great Lockdown

Given the numerous uncertainties COVID-19 brings, preparing an economic forecast was no easy task. The IMF’s most recent projections assume that the pandemic fades in the second half of 2020, containment efforts are gradually unwound, and governments provide policy support.

With this in mind, which countries are expected to see the strongest recoveries? Below is the full country-level forecast, sorted by projected real GDP growth in 2021.

Real GDP, Annual Percentage Change
2019 Actual, 2020-2021 Projected

Jurisdiction20192020P2021P
Libya9.9–58.780.7
Macao SAR–4.7–29.632.0
Palau0.5–11.914.4
Maldives5.7–8.113.2
Aruba0.4–13.712.1
Bangladesh7.92.09.5
China6.11.29.2
Malaysia4.3–1.79.0
Côte d'Ivoire6.92.78.7
St. Kitts and Nevis2.9–8.18.5
Djibouti7.51.08.5
Latvia2.2–8.68.3
Lithuania3.9–8.18.2
Indonesia5.00.58.2
Niger5.81.08.1
Mongolia5.1–1.08.0
Albania2.2–5.08.0
Antigua and Barbuda5.3–10.08.0
Kyrgyz Republic4.5–4.08.0
Seychelles3.9–10.88.0
Estonia4.3–7.57.9
Philippines5.90.67.6
Belize0.3–12.07.6
Guinea5.62.97.6
Czech Republic2.6–6.57.5
Myanmar6.51.87.5
Kosovo4.0–5.07.5
Serbia4.2–3.07.5
India4.21.97.4
Iraq3.9–4.77.2
Barbados–0.1–7.67.1
Malta4.4–2.87.0
Fiji0.5–5.87.0
Vietnam7.02.77.0
North Macedonia3.6–4.07.0
Uzbekistan5.61.87.0
St. Lucia1.7–8.56.9
Botswana3.0–5.46.8
The Bahamas1.8–8.36.7
Rwanda10.13.56.7
Montenegro3.6–9.06.5
The Gambia6.02.56.5
Turkmenistan6.31.86.4
Ireland5.5–6.86.3
Guyana4.752.86.3
Algeria0.7–5.26.2
Australia1.8–6.76.1
Cambodia7.0–1.66.1
Thailand2.4–6.76.1
Grenada3.1–8.06.1
Yemen2.1–3.06.1
Chad3.0–0.26.1
Kenya5.61.06.1
Denmark2.4–6.56.0
Iceland1.9–7.26.0
Bulgaria3.4–4.06.0
Benin6.44.56.0
New Zealand2.2–7.25.9
Eritrea3.80.15.9
Ghana6.11.55.9
Mauritius3.5–6.85.9
Burkina Faso5.72.05.8
Cyprus3.2–6.55.6
Lao P.D.R.4.70.75.6
Guatemala3.6–2.05.5
Tajikistan7.51.05.5
Cabo Verde5.5–4.05.5
São Tomé and Príncipe1.3–6.05.5
Senegal5.33.05.5
Slovenia2.4–8.05.4
San Marino1.1–12.25.4
St. Vincent and the Grenadines0.4–4.55.4
Chile1.1–4.55.3
Germany0.6–7.05.2
Sweden1.2–6.85.2
Peru2.2–4.55.2
Greece1.9–10.05.1
Lesotho1.2–5.25.1
Portugal2.2–8.05.0
Slovak Republic2.3–6.25.0
Israel3.5–6.35.0
Nepal7.12.55.0
Turkey0.9–5.05.0
Uruguay0.2–3.05.0
Qatar0.1–4.35.0
Madagascar4.80.45.0
Vanuatu2.9–3.34.9
Croatia2.9–9.04.9
Suriname2.3–4.94.9
Italy0.3–9.14.8
Luxembourg2.3–4.94.8
Armenia7.6–1.54.8
Morocco2.2–3.74.8
United States2.3–5.94.7
Mozambique2.22.24.7
Belgium1.4–6.94.6
Tanzania6.32.04.6
France1.3–7.24.5
Austria1.6–7.04.5
El Salvador2.4–5.44.5
Afghanistan3.0–3.04.5
Argentina–2.2–5.74.4
Spain2.0–8.04.3
Ethiopia9.03.24.3
Uganda4.93.54.3
Canada1.6–6.24.2
Sri Lanka2.3–0.54.2
Hungary4.9–3.14.2
Poland4.1–4.64.2
Mauritania5.9–2.04.2
Burundi1.8–5.54.2
Moldova3.6–3.04.1
Honduras2.7–2.44.1
Kazakhstan4.5–2.54.1
Tunisia1.0–4.34.1
Cameroon3.7–1.24.1
Mali5.11.54.1
United Kingdom1.4–6.54.0
Dominican Republic5.1–1.04.0
Panama3.0–2.04.0
Paraguay0.2–1.04.0
Central African Republic3.01.04.0
Liberia–2.5–2.54.0
Sierra Leone5.1–2.34.0
South Africa0.2–5.84.0
Togo5.31.04.0
Hong Kong SAR–1.2–4.83.9
Romania4.1–5.03.9
Ecuador0.1–6.33.9
Switzerland0.9–6.03.8
Solomon Islands1.2–2.13.8
Timor-Leste3.1–3.03.8
Colombia3.3–2.43.7
Jordan2.0–3.73.7
Ukraine3.2–7.73.6
Gabon3.4–1.23.6
Taiwan Province of China2.7–4.03.5
Brunei Darussalam3.91.33.5
Tuvalu6.0–1.03.5
Belarus1.2–6.03.5
Bosnia and Herzegovina2.7–5.03.5
Russia1.3–5.53.5
Jamaica1.0–5.63.5
Democratic Republic of the Congo4.4–2.23.5
Korea2.0–1.23.4
Dominica9.2–4.73.4
Kuwait0.7–1.13.4
Republic of Congo–0.9–2.33.4
United Arab Emirates1.3–3.53.3
Marshall Islands2.4–0.23.2
Namibia–1.4–2.53.2
South Sudan11.34.93.2
Finland1.0–6.03.1
Iran–7.6–6.03.1
Comoros1.9–1.23.1
Netherlands1.8–7.53.0
Japan0.7–5.23.0
Singapore0.7–3.53.0
Costa Rica2.1–3.33.0
Mexico–0.1–6.63.0
Bahrain1.8–3.63.0
Georgia5.1–4.03.0
Oman0.5–2.83.0
Guinea-Bissau4.6–1.53.0
Norway1.2–6.32.9
Bhutan5.32.72.9
Papua New Guinea5.0–1.02.9
Bolivia2.8–2.92.9
Brazil1.1–5.32.9
Saudi Arabia0.3–2.32.9
Somalia2.9–2.52.9
Egypt5.62.02.8
Trinidad and Tobago–0.0–4.52.6
Angola–1.5–1.42.6
Malawi4.51.02.5
Zimbabwe–8.3–7.42.5
Nigeria2.2–3.42.4
Equatorial Guinea–6.1–5.52.3
Zambia1.5–3.52.3
Kiribati2.30.02.2
Pakistan3.3–1.52.0
Eswatini1.0–0.91.8
Puerto Rico2.0–6.01.5
Micronesia1.2–0.41.4
Nauru1.0–1.71.3
Tonga–0.1–1.21.2
Haiti–1.2–4.01.2
Azerbaijan2.3–2.20.7
Samoa3.5–3.70.5
Nicaragua–3.9–6.00.0
Sudan–2.5–7.2–3.0
Venezuela–35.0–15.0–5.0
Lebanon–6.5–12.0No data
SyriaNo dataNo dataNo data

Libya is forecast to have the highest growth in 2021, as well as the deepest contraction in 2020. However, the IMF notes the reliability of this data is low given Libya is currently facing a civil war and weak capacity.

Emerging and developing Asia is expected to have a strong recovery, with China and India predicted to see 2021 growth rates of 9.2% and 7.4% respectively. For China, this is a welcome change after its first quarter GDP contracted by 6.8%, the first decline since at least 1992.

The IMF predicts the U.S. will see GDP growth of 4.7% in 2021, which is slightly higher than the 4.5% average for advanced economies. Separately, the U.S. Federal Reserve also believes the economy will recover relatively quickly given the country entered the pandemic on strong economic footing.

There is every reason to believe that the economic rebound, when it comes, can be robust.

Jerome Powell, U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman

In the meantime, the Federal Reserve says it is committed to providing financing programs and maintaining low interest rates to help boost the economy.

Spotting Opportunity

As the pandemic subsides, broad-based stimulus will be critical for economic recoveries. Clear communication on the state of the pandemic, and the decline of new infections, will also help instill consumer confidence.

Investors can consider these factors, as well as the IMF’s forecast, as they look to diversify geographically. This allows investors to take advantage of areas with the highest potential growth.

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Markets in a Minute

Wall Street vs Main Street: The Stock Market is Not the Economy

To give context to the Wall Street vs Main Street debate, we compare S&P 500 returns and U.S. GDP growth since 1980.

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Wall Street vs Main Street

This infographic is available as a poster.

Wall Street vs Main Street

In 2020, the stock market and the economy had a very public break up. The Wall Street vs Main Street divide—the gap between America’s financial markets and the economy—was growing. By the end of the year, the S&P 500 Index closed at a record high. In contrast, 20 million Americans remained unemployed, up from 2 million at the start of the year.

Was 2020 an outlier, or does the performance of the stock market typically diverge from the economy? In this Markets in a Minute chart from New York Life Investments, we show U.S. economic growth and stock market performance over the last four decades, to see how closely the two relate.

GDP Growth and S&P 500 Returns

Here’s how annual GDP growth and S&P 500 Index returns stack up from 1980 to the second quarter of 2021. Both metrics are net of inflation.

YearReal GDP GrowthReal S&P 500 Returns
1980-0.3%13.9%
19812.5%-18.3%
1982-1.8%10.8%
19834.6%13.4%
19847.2%-2.5%
19854.2%23.0%
19863.5%12.9%
19873.5%-2.2%
19884.2%7.9%
19893.7%22.4%
19901.9%-12.4%
1991-0.1%23.4%
19923.5%1.4%
19932.8%4.4%
19944.0%-4.2%
19952.7%31.4%
19963.8%17.2%
19974.4%29.3%
19984.5%25.1%
19994.8%16.6%
20004.1%-13.5%
20011.0%-14.6%
20021.7%-26.0%
20032.9%24.5%
20043.8%5.8%
20053.5%-0.7%
20062.9%11.4%
20071.9%-0.6%
2008-0.1%-39.2%
2009-2.5%21.6%
20102.6%11.1%
20111.6%-3.1%
20122.2%11.6%
20131.8%28.3%
20142.5%10.9%
20153.1%-1.4%
20161.7%7.3%
20172.3%17.2%
20183.0%-8.1%
20192.2%26.8%
2020-3.5%14.9%
Q1 20211.5%4.5%
Q2 20211.6%5.8%

Note: For Q1 and Q2 2021, real GDP growth and inflation rates are quarterly rates and are seasonally adjusted.

More often than not, GDP growth and S&P 500 Index returns have both been positive. The late ‘90s saw particularly strong economic activity and stock performance. According to the White House, economic growth was bolstered by cutting the deficit, modernizing job training, and increasing exports. Meanwhile, increasing investor confidence and the growing tech bubble led to annual stock market returns that exceeded 20%.

In the selected timeframe, only 2008 saw a decline in both the stock market and the economy. This was, of course, caused by the Global Financial Crisis. Banks lent out subprime mortgages, or mortgages to people with impaired credit ratings. These mortgages were then pooled together and repackaged into investments such as mortgage-backed securities (MBS). When interest rates rose and home prices collapsed, this led to mortgage defaults and financial institution bankruptcies as many MBS investments became worthless.

Moving in Opposite Directions

What about when the Wall Street vs Main Street divide grows?

Historically, it has been more common to see positive GDP growth and negative stock performance. For example, real GDP grew by a whopping 7% in 1984 due to “Reaganomics”, such as tax cuts and anti-inflation monetary policy. However, the stock market declined as rising treasury yields of up to 14% made fixed income investments more attractive than equities.

On the other hand, in five of the six years with negative GDP growth, there have been positive stock returns. The most recent example of this is 2020. Real GDP declined by 3.5%, while the S&P 500 returned almost 15% net of inflation.

The Stock Market is not the Economy

There are a number of reasons why the stock market may not necessarily reflect what is happening in the economy.

  • The stock market reflects long-term views. A stock’s price factors in what investors think a company will earn in the future. If investors are confident in the likelihood of an economic recovery, stock prices will likely rise. In contrast, GDP growth is a hard measure of current activity.
  • Sector weightings in the stock market do not reflect their contributions to GDP. The stock market remained resilient in 2020 largely because technology, media, and telecom (TMT) stocks performed well. Despite making up 35% of the market cap of the largest 1,000 U.S. stocks, these companies only account for 8% of U.S. GDP. In contrast, hard-hit companies such as restaurants and gyms generate lots of jobs and contribute materially to GDP. However, many of these businesses accounted for a small portion of the stock market or are not even publicly listed.
  • Fiscal policy lags behind monetary policy. The U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) can act quickly. For instance, the Fed bought $1.7 trillion of Treasury securities between mid-March and June 2020 to stabilize financial markets. On the other hand, fiscal support requires legislative approvals. The U.S. government initially provided large-scale economic stimulus through the CARES Act in March 2020, but further relief packages were stalled due to political disagreements.

While many factors are at play, the above can help explain the Wall Street vs Main Street divide.

Wall Street vs Main Street: Together and Apart

Over the last 41 years, the economy and the stock market have moved in opposite directions almost as often as they have moved in the same direction. Here’s a summary of their movements from 1980-2020.

 # of Years
Stock Growth, GDP Growth22
Stock Decline, GDP Growth13
Stock Growth, GDP Decline5
Stock Decline, GDP Decline1

Since 1980, these time periods of differing performance have never lasted more than three consecutive years. In fact, one economist described the stock market and the unemployment rate as two people walking down the street, tethered by a rope.

”When the rope is slack, they move apart. But they can never get too far away from each other.”
—Roger Farmer, University of Warwick economist

After their public breakup in 2020, the Wall Street vs Main Street divide appears to have healed. In the first two quarters of 2021, both the stock market and the economy saw growth. Perhaps it’s easiest to sum up their relationship in two words: it’s complicated.

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Markets in a Minute

Data Centers: Investing in the Infrastructure of the Future

Infrastructure refers to any asset that provides an essential service. In today’s interconnected world, data centers are exactly that.

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Data Centers

This infographic is available as a poster.

Data Centers: Investing in the Infrastructure of the Future

Digital transformation is one of the world’s most prominent trends today.

For evidence, consider the growth in internet users worldwide. By 2023, 5.3 billion people (66% of population) will be using the internet, up from 3.9 billion (51% of population) in 2018.

This growth has resulted in an incredible amount of data being produced each day, whether its from streaming music on Spotify or buying goods on Amazon. But how is all this data being processed?

In this Markets in a Minute chart from New York Life Investments, we shed light on the importance of data centers, and why they should be considered as core infrastructure.

The Role of the Data Center

A data center is a facility that stores, processes, and disseminates data. There are thousands of them around the world, and collectively, they’re referred to as the “cloud”.

This puts data centers at the center of nearly everything we do online: e-commerce, communications, storage and back-up, and even online gaming. To gain a better sense of what this all looks like, the following table breaks down the storage capacity of the world’s data centers.

Segment2016 Storage Capacity (exabytes)2021 Storage Capacity (exabytes) 
Compute160470
Collaboration170400
Database & analytics150380
Enterprise resource planning180420
Video streaming50180
Social networking60160
Search engine30100
Other consumer apps70190
Total8702,300

Source: Statista (2021)

One exabyte is equal to one billion gigabytes, which means the world currently has 2.3 trillion gigabytes of total storage.

The largest segment is compute instances, which are cloud-based workstations used by data scientists. At the lower end of the scale are segments like video streaming (includes Netflix and Hulu) and social networking (think Facebook or LinkedIn).

Cloud Spending Reaches a Historic Milestone

For businesses that create and use data, moving to the cloud (as opposed to maintaining their own servers) has plenty of advantages like cost savings, flexibility, and security.

This is driving exponential growth in cloud infrastructure spending, which reached a record $130 billion in 2020. At the same time, spending on data center hardware decreased from $96 to $90 billion. These results are partly attributed to COVID-19, which forced many businesses to switch to a work-from-home operating model.

A survey conducted by 451 Research found that 40% of businesses had increased their usage of cloud services during the pandemic. In addition, 85% of those who were impacted indicated that the move would be a permanent one.

Data Centers are Infrastrcture

The scope of an infrastructure investor has historically been limited to companies in construction, energy, and transportation.

But what defines infrastructure?

It’s any physical system that is vital for an economy’s development and prosperity—and in a world where over 5 billion people are expected to be online by 2023, the data center is the perfect embodiment of that.

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