Well, that was quick. As Main Street tip-toes back to work, Mr. Market has voted with a loud and large V. That’s the ‘V shaped” recovery of financial charts all over the world, particularly in the US. Check out the S&P 500 recovery and its move back into positive territory for 2020. Whooodathunk!
That is a 40% move since the lows of March. The tech-heavy Nasdaq index has had an even stronger rocket ride; it hit all time highs yesterday and is actually up 10% in 2020. Wall Street is doing its market thing and looking through the current turmoil and “discounting” a better future. Even if a company is “dead”. Rental zombie, Hertz, filed for bankruptcy a few weeks ago but the share price (yes, the equity) gained 115% yesterday. Chesapeake Energy with its $8 billion of Q1 losses and debts in write-off mode went a bit better; just the 181% trip to the stars yesterday. The market is always right, right? Honestly, we just don’t know. Benjamin Graham puts it better – “In the short run, the market is a voting machine, but in the long run, it is a weighing machine.”
Investors have voted and followed a wall of central bank emergency funding into risk assets. Back on Main Street business owners are weighing up the challenges presented by an ongoing global pandemic, lost revenues, new regulations, new behaviours and their costs. Oh, and Covid-19 is still here – WHO said it recorded its highest daily tally of new infections on Sunday (136,000). Interestingly, for those assuming all will return to pre-Covid exuberance, the National Bureau of Economic Research didn’t quite get the White House ‘Keep-America-Great’ memo. It turns out that the US officially went into recession in February. Yes, the US economy was already contracting before lock-down. Who cares, say investors clocking gains every day. Dare we say exuberance is back? Buckle up, we have a transport dream to sell you.
Nikola Corp makes hydrogen and battery powered trucks. Not one truck has been produced yet, we don’t know who will make them and the company has zero revenues to date. The Nikola share price doubled on Monday and the value of the company now exceeds $33 billion. That is now $3 billion higher than the value of the 117 year old Ford Motor Company and its annual revenues of $150 billion. Punchy stuff. I think we can agree Wall Street has voted for a big V-shaped recovery. ‘Mission Accomplished” springs to mind.
There is one tiny flaw in that prognosis. Main Street gets to vote too. Up until now, most business people with US commercial interests would tell you their local contacts/partners are emphatic President Trump will be re-elected. With the most recent CNN poll putting Biden 14 points ahead of Bunker Boy, one wonders is that confidence about to be tested? As Main Street returns to work and polls its pandemic pain through the hot summer months, what are the chances Mr Market reaches for the weighing-scales and reins in its exuberance. Then, we may appreciate “V’ is for volatility too.