After a lifetime of being interested in and studying macroeconomics and also participating in the coal-face end of Capitalism, I have been unprepared for the loss of insight that I have suffered through the covid pandemic.
Long time readers will know, I could see the credit crunch coming, before that I knew 9/11 would wreck parts of the economy, I could see QE becoming the chosen too to manage the economy in the West in to 2010's. Whilst seeing the austerity recovery spilling over into more recessions and perhaps underestimating the euro's hardiness, overall I feel I have had good feel for macro conditions for a long time (just don't get me to stock pick, if only I were talented at that...).
Covid world is just mental though:
- Stock prices down less in percentage terms and GDP (utterly insane and unpredictable)
- Government spending slightly higher than during 2008, but no impact on the currency
- Huge increase in unemployment but a huge boost to house prices (in my area, where I am dealing with agents currently who are true sons and daughters of satan, at least 5% in the last 3 months)
- Also huge unemployment but the highest ever savings rate since records began
- Tourism and trade hugely down, but deflation setting into retail purchase
- Some parts of the economy smashed by the Virus; travel and leisure, retail, but then others like digital and logistics hugely boosted.
None of the above makes any sense in general economic terms. Asset prices maybe I can see rising as savings increase and need deploying, however the huge unemployment should undermine house prices and rents - but the opposite is happening.
The Government is busy shellacking the public finance with a second 100-year black swan event in the space of 12 years. Yet relatively the Government remains popular and the pound stable as the same rate as the past years post-Brexit.
So, with all the above, I have lost all sense of where this is going economically. The world is changing at hyper-speed and 2021 will see a big denouement - but I honestly can't say whether this will be a bounce back to a new level of stability or a 2009 style crisis. The issue with the markets is they are driven by people and investors too and I sense nobody knows what to do or where things are going. This would suggest a huge shakeout when people and markets figure it out eventually - I just can't make out how it will be resolved yet.