"The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men..."
The so called "experts" create a plan and implement that plan. However, those plans are rarely adjusted in mid-use and hardly ever reversed based on new evidence. We are seeing this play out on multiple fronts recently.
Markets are second-guessing the Fed's recent rate decision announcement. Chairman Powell last week indicated a 6.5% growth rate for the U.S. economy and no changes to their bond-buying program. However, a change to the way banks can calculate their leverage (by including Treasuries) will expire at the end of this month, which sent Treasury Yields higher mid-week. Meanwhile, the Fed's Financial Stress Index is very low at -0.66, compared to one year ago when it was +3.28.
Despite nearly 2.5 million vaccine shots per day, the new "worry" is COVID variants of the original virus. A recent study shows that this "worry" is more than likely misplaced as only 0.65% of those infected with COVID are reinfected. The question the "experts" must face in light of new data is when does life return to normal? Math scores for elementary school children have declined by 9% on average. In addition, COVID deaths among children 0-17 in age did not even come close to the worst flu season (2012-2013), and yet schools were not closed during that particular school year. The unintended consequences of the shutdowns should be taken into account going forward as we decide when to return to normalcy.
Meanwhile, Value stocks are en vogue as rising Treasury Yields has made Technology stocks expensive. Financials and Utilities look attractive and investors have been paying attention. Value stocks are now leading Growth stocks by nearly 1200 basis points year-to-date. In recent years when Value has out-performed Growth (2012, 2014, & 2016), "growth" stocks didn't fall off a cliff. In fact, growth stocks ended those years in the positive column, but did under-perform their value peers.
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