From a northern hemisphere perspective, Spring 2021 formally begins on Saturday 20 March however – for both recent weather and economic watchers – February showed some real progress that boosted signs of optimism for the rest of the year.
The first month of a new year ended as a disappointment for the average U.K. investor, especially as a contrast to the widespread excitable returns seen in the last two months of 2020. However, the month of January alone rarely gives us every answer and the unique nature of both the U.K. market alone and collectively the entire world has a wide range of potential outcomes.
We wish you a safe, healthy, and prosperous New Year! These words are even more meaningful given the most deadly and economically crippling ‘Black Swan’ event that we have experienced in the last century—COVID-19. After unprecedented fiscal and monetary stimulus, the record-setting development of multiple effective vaccines has elevated optimism that we will experience the ‘thrill of victory’ over this nemesis in the upcoming year.
The curtain is slowly coming down on 2020. Not before time! After what has been a tumultuous period for most, and a tragedy for many, the time to turn the page and move on is slowly arriving. Centre stage, the principal actors are going through their closing lines. Following the US elections, the leading actor refuses to go quietly into the night. Legal actions lie strewn about like discarded party poppers…
After a rough, tough performance month in the pan-European equity markets, the instinct is always to look away from the detailed data and conclude in a world of tightening pandemic restrictions and an imminent (and hotly contested) American presidential election, that uncertainty must induce investment caution.
This October marks 80 years since the opening of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, America’s first highway. Highways have been a critical driver of economic growth due to the connectivity, speed, and efficiency they provide. As Confucius so appropriately stated, “roads were made for journeys, not destinations.”
The traditional early September think piece centres on the natural reset that a generalised return to work (and for the younger generation, school) brings after the typically languid summer holiday period. As 2020 is clearly a very different style of year, let us rip up the normal script and ask the simpler question of ‘does the world feel lucky?’
Financial markets are always a three-dimensional jigsaw, with new pieces being added and deleted at whim every business day. But the signals from the last month have been especially difficult to discern. In contrast to the bounce back second quarter, July was a negative month for pan-European markets with the U.K. continuing to lag.
At any other time, a three percent bounce during May in the pan- European (including the U.K.) equity markets and the driest fifth month of the year in large swathes of the country since 1929, would represent an ideal entry into the summer months. However – despite recent lockdown liberalisations – these are far from normal times.
Over three hundred and fifty years ago, back in 1665, Isaac Newton socially distanced himself from the horrors of the then rampant bubonic plague and – away from his burgeoning academic career at Trinity College in Cambridge – enjoyed a ‘year of wonders’ at his childhood home. During this period he formulated a theory of universal gravitation, explored optics and discovered differential and integral calculus.