Have Stocks Already Priced In The “Economic Boom?”

The media is buzzing with claims of an “Economic Boom” in 2021. While the economy will most certainly grow in 2021, the question is how much is already “baked in?”

“The economy has entered a period of supercharged growth. Instead of fizzling, it could potentially remain stronger than it was during the pre-pandemic era into 2023.

Economists now expect the second quarter to grow at a pace of 10%, and they expect growth for 2021 to be north of 6.5%. In the past decade, only a few quarters gross domestic product growing at even 3%.”

The premise is that strong “pent up” demand will sustain the economic recovery over the next few years.

However, since market lows in 2020, the market surge has not only recouped all of those losses but has rocketed to all-time highs on expectations of surging earnings growth.

The question: How much has gotten priced in?

A Return To Normalcy

Just recently, Liz Ann Sonders wrote a piece for Advisor Perspectives. To wit:

“Vaccines and herd immunity continue to bring COVID cases down, and the economic reopening continues to kick into a higher gear. Such is what the data is starting to show. Across economic metrics, from the gross domestic product (GDP) to retail sales and job growth, boom conditions are evident.”

She is correct in her statement. However, there is a difference between an “economic boom” and a “recovery.” As shown in the chart of GDP growth below, the U.S. has already experienced a very sharp “economic recovery” from the recessionary lows. (I have included estimates for the rest of 2020, which shows a return to trend growth.)

(Click on image to enlarge)

Economic Boom, Have Stocks Already Priced In The “Economic Boom?”

The following chart shows the economic recovery against the massive dumps of liquidity pumped into the economy. (Estimates run through the end of 2021 using economist’s assumptions.)

(Click on image to enlarge)

Economic Boom, Have Stocks Already Priced In The “Economic Boom?”

Can’t Recoup Losses

Certain areas of the economy, like airlines, hotels, and cruise ships, have yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels. However, those industries only make up a relatively small amount of overall economic activity. Furthermore, these industries will continue to struggle for some time as individuals will not take “two vacations” this year since they missed last year. That activity is now forever lost.

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