2020 tested investors with unprecedented volatility stemming from the COVID-19 crisis. Now as we enter 2021, many are wondering – where are markets and the economy headed next? In a recent podcast, I provided an in-depth analysis of 2020 and shared insights on the outlook for 2021 and beyond.
Reviewing the Tumultuous Events of 2020
The pandemic plunged markets into bear territory in March, with the S&P 500 falling over 30% in just weeks. However, aggressive stimulus measures combined with optimistic vaccine news fueled a rapid recovery. Despite the challenges, the S&P 500 managed to gain 16% for the full year, exceeding most expectations.
Analyzing the Drivers of the 2020 Rebound
While COVID-19 dominated headlines, the market rebound was driven by several key factors working in concert. The Federal Reserve took swift action by aggressively cutting rates and purchasing assets to infuse liquidity into the system. At the same time, Congress approved trillions of dollars in small business loans and direct stimulus payments to Americans. This provided a cushion as the economy began to reopen and restart quicker than many expected as lockdowns lifted. Additionally, corporate profits and earnings proved more resilient than feared, providing support to the market recovery.
The Economic and Market Outlook for 2021
Entering 2021, I have a cautiously optimistic outlook based on several positive trends that appear to be converging. Leading indicators point to improving corporate earnings and profit growth as the economy moves forward. Surveys also show renewing consumer and business confidence, which should translate to increased spending. Monetary policy remains highly supportive with the Fed committed to near zero rates for several years. Additionally, the new administration and Congress are aligned on passing further fiscal stimulus and infrastructure spending in 2021. Finally, vaccine distribution is ramping up, with potential for widespread availability by mid-year 2021. This could reignite more normal economic activity.
Recommendations for Investors in 2021
For investors, it’s critical to focus on long-term goals and not react emotionally to short-term volatility. Other tips include:
- Maintain proper diversification and rebalance portfolio allocations as needed.
- Proactively communicate any changes in your financial situation.
- Consider tax-minimization strategies where possible.
- Connect with our office to review your customized investment plan.
While risks remain, I believe the stage is set for continued economic recovery and solid market performance in 2021. As your financial advisor, we’ll keep you updated on developments and positioned for growth in the years ahead. Please contact us for an investment strategy consultation.