The stock market is off the rails

- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -
- Advertisement -

To investors, it makes sense. Stocks have surged 40% since late March because the worst damage from the coronavirus recession is in the past and the cavalry has arrived. The Federal Reserve is now propping up risky assets, Congress is flooding the economy with money and there are wee signs of an economic recovery.

If you’re an ordinary person who thinks the soaring stock market is crazy, you’re right. There’s no right or wrong value for any stock, or for the market as a whole. There’s only the value the market assigns at any point in time, based on supply, demand and other factors. But demand for stocks—investors placing buy orders—is wildly out of sync with what’s happening in the real economy, where 42 million Americans are newly unemployed and millions of businesses are reeling.

Traders are right when they say the stock market evaluates the future, not the past. Backward-looking economic data about what happened last week or last month is irrelevant to the value of stocks unless it hints at future actions, such as an unexpected change in Federal Reserve policy. But it’s hard to imagine what future stocks are evaluating right now. 2025? 2030?  If so, that’s a time horizon so distant it’s almost meaningless.

Here are some of the grim developments economists foresee during the next 12 to 24 months:

Massive small business failures. “Very small businesses with just a few em­ployees are expected to fail en masse,” Moody’s Analytics says in a June 2 forecast. “Of the 8 million busi­ness establishments operating prior to the crisis in the U.S., it would not be surprising if close to a million do not make it. New busi­nesses will eventually form, and the economy will recover, but that process will take years, not months.” Many of those small firms don’t have the connection with banks needed to take advantage of federal aid. Commercial bankruptcy filings in May soared by 48% year over year, a preview of the carnage coming.

rillions in lost output. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the coronavirus recession will cost the U.S. economy $15.7 trillion in real economic output by 2030, adjusted for inflation, for a 5.3% drop in total output. That’s 7 months’ worth of economic activity that simply won’t happen, which will suppress employment and incomes well into the decade.

A long and slow jobs recovery. IHS Markit thinks employment won’t recover to pre-virus levels until 2024. That’s four years from now. Congress is already hesitant to pass a fourth stimulus bill, because of the massive run-up in federal debt stimulus measures have already caused. Will it be willing to add even more debt a year from now? Two years from now?

Debt crises. Governments everywhere are racking up debt to bail out companies and workers and keep the global recession from getting worse. At some point, serious doubts will rise about some countries’ ability to make interest payments. It’ll happen first in developing countries and then perhaps in Italy. Rising interest rates would be one ugly manifestation, pushing up borrowing costs for everybody.

Bank stress. Many businesses that fail or restructure will default on debt owed to banks and other lenders. Banks aren’t fragile and overleveraged as they were before the financial crash in 2008, but an unforeseen shock of the magnitude we’re seeing now could bring down at least a few lenders.

Investors clearly think the Fed and other central banks can corral these problems, and the Fed certainly has the power to massively intervene in the economy. What the Fed can’t do, however, is create demand. That requires businesses and consumers to gain confidence that the coronavirus is gone for good, jobs are safe and it’s okay to spend money.

This article was originally posted on finance.yahoo.com/news/.
Home of Science
Follow me

- Advertisement -

Discover

Sponsor

Latest

Netflix: Evolution of Technology and Invention in Every Field

Netflix: Evolution of Technology and Invention in Every FieldThe story of Netflix is not as surprising as some people think. It is all...

Morgan Stanley Makes New Bet on Steepening U.S. Yield Curve

Morgan Stanley strategists added a bet on a steeper Treasury yield curve, seeing the potential for a “regime shift” in the wake of a...

Netflix Vs The Competition

When it comes to Netflix, anyone who watches television, or movies at all, will quickly be hooked. Not only can you watch as many...

Uber makes takeover offer for GrubHub, but both sides remain at odds on price

KEY POINTS Uber has made an offer to buy food delivery company Grubhub, a person familiar with the matter told CNBC Tuesday. Grubhub’s stock...

See Tesla’s Cybertruck roll through the streets with Elon Musk and Jay Leno

Let me warn you all up front: the audio in this teaser for Elon Musk's upcoming appearance on Jay Leno's Garage is *badly* out of sync...
Home of Science
Follow me