Have Stocks Already Priced In The “Economic Boom?”

Yes, the economy will recover most likely to pre-pandemic levels this year due to stimulus injections, but as discussed previously, what then?

“The biggest problem with more stimulus is the increase in the debt required to fund it. There is no historical precedent, anywhere globally, that shows increased debt levels lead to more robust economic growth rates or prosperity. Since 1980, the overall increase in debt has surged to levels that currently usurp the entirety of economic growth. With economic growth rates now at the lowest levels on record, the change in debt continues to divert more tax dollars away from productive investments into the service of debt and social welfare.”

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

Just as it is with investing, getting “back to even” is not the same thing as “organic growth.”

The Second Derivative

What is shown above is the “second derivative” effect of growth.

“In calculus, the second derivative, or the second-order derivative, of a function f is the derivative of the derivative of f.” – Wikipedia.

In English, the “second derivative” measures how the rate of change of a quantity is itself changing. Since we measure GDP growth on an annual rate of change basis, the larger the economy grows, the lower the rate of change will be. Here is a simplistic example go GDP growth:

In year 1, GDP = $1. In the second year, GDP grows to $2. The annual rate of change is 100%. However, in year 3, even though the economy grows to $3, the annual rate of change falls to just 50%.

Given the long-term historical correlation between economic growth, corporate earnings, and annualized returns, the reversion to trend growth has implications for investors. As Liz notes:

“Using three broad ranges for GDP growth historically, the lowest range (when the economy is barely growing or in recession) is accompanied by the highest annualized stock market performance. GDP is only slightly back into positive territory on an annualized basis. However, the strong growth expected in the second quarter will push GDP into the highest zone. At that level, stocks have historically posted a negative annualized return.”

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