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-    The Notable Events List    -

April 2021

“Your Guide to Relevant Recent Events”

By: Joseph R. Tranchini, CFA


Monetary

  • Federal Reserve’s latest Beige Book release noted a pickup in overall economic activity and employment across most reporting districts1
    • Report also noted a high degree of business confidence and optimism regarding the next 6-12 months due primarily to vaccine distribution efforts being expanded and the potential for further loosening of restrictions1
    • Noted that the leisure & hospitality sector remains significantly hampered by COVID-19 related restrictions and remains a large source of slack in the labor market1
    • Continued increases in home prices are attributable to historically low mortgage rates, with demand for new and existing homes being robust. Financial institutions have also noted lower delinquency rates and higher deposit levels1
    • Contacts in most districts continued to report labor supply shortages due to child-care concerns and generosity of unemployment benefits. Business have reported modest wage increases to attract and retain workers1
    • Non-labor input prices increased moderately with lumber and steel being large sources of inflation. Fed also noted that recent pricing pressure is largely attributable to supply-chain disruptions related to COVID-19, and a rise in transportation costs due to higher fuel costs1
  • In a largely expected FOMC statement, the Federal Reserve kept the Fed Funds target rate constant at its 0-0.25% level and reiterated its stance to continue monthly asset purchases at the current rate of $80B of Treasury securities, as well as $40B in mortgage-backed securities4
    • In the Fed’s accompanying Summary of Economic Projections, the median estimate of real GDP growth for 2021 increased to a level of 6.5% from a previous level of 4.2%5
    • Additionally, the median estimate for Headline PCE Inflation increased to a level of 2.4% from a previous level of 1.8%5
    • Median expectations for unemployment dropped to a new level of 4.5% from a prior level of 5.0%5
    • No surveyed members of the Fed foresaw any increase in the Fed Funds target range for the full year 20215. Only 4 of the 18 surveyed foresaw at lest 1 rate hike occurring in sometime in 20225

Fiscal

  • Biden Administration in the process of planning new, major Federal tax hikes to help pay for future infrastructure spending, in addition to recently passed COVID-19 relief. Some of the proposals under consideration include2,3:
    • Raising the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%2,3
    • Paring back tax preferences for pass-through entities such as LLCs and partnerships2,3
    • Raising income taxes on individuals earning over $400k2,3
    • Increasing the scope of Estate Taxes by disallowing step-ups in cost basis and necessitating tax payments on appreciated assets upon death2,3
    • Increasing capital gains tax rates for individuals earning over $1M annually2,3
    • Without Republican support, tax increases would need to be passed via the Budget Reconciliation process, which was used to pass the latest round of COVID-19 relief2,3
  • President Biden formally unveils the new infrastructure spending bill called the American Jobs Plan. The proposal includes about $2T of spending set to be spread out over a 10yr horizon. Noteworthy items within the plan include10,11:
    • $621B invested in transportation-related infrastructure to modernize bridges, highways, and major roadways. Will also carve-out $174B for electric vehicle investment by providing point of sale rebates and tax incentives for consumers, establishing state, local, and private sector grant programs to establish a nationwide network of 500,000 EV chargers by 203010,11
    • $111B invested in safe drinking water infrastructure by replacing all lead pipes and service lines10,11
    • $100B invested in digital infrastructure to reach 100% broadband coverage, promote price transparency across internet providers, and reduce the cost of broadband internet service10,11
    • $100B invested to modernize electrical grids by creating an investment tax credit incentivizing the buildout of high-voltage power lines, extending and expanding direct-pay investment tax credits and production tax credits related to clean energy generation and storage10,11
    • $213B invested to produce more than a million modernized, energy efficient affordable housing units, as well as addressing public housing capital needs10,11
    • $100B invested to upgrade and rebuild public schools to be financed via $50B in grants and $50B through bonds10,11

Geopolitics

  • First high-level face-to-face meeting between U.S. and China officials during the Biden Administration largely seen as unproductive and combative6
    • U.S. officials discussed a list of issues the U.S. currently has with China including cyberattacks, continued crackdowns on Hong Kong, threats against Taiwan, and repression of the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region6
    • Chinese officials rebuked U.S. officials claims by insisting that China is free to deal with its internal issues as it sees fit, and that the U.S. should focus on its own internal issues6
  • Joint coalition between the U.S., Canada, U.K., and the E.U. formally level sanctions against Chinese officials regarding human rights abuses related to the mass detention campaign brought against the Uyghur population in the Xinjiang region of China7
    • China retaliates by blacklisting 10 European lawmakers, as well as a number of academics, from doing business with, or traveling to, China7
    • Joint coalition’s sanctions are largely similar, freezing assets of sanctioned officials and banning them from travel7

Vaccine

  • In a real-world study conducted by the CDC, both Pfizer and Moderna’s vaccines were shown to reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 by 80% two weeks after receiving the first of two shots required by the regimes9
    • After receiving the second shot, the risk of infection fell by 90% which is in line with each company’s initial study results9
  • As of March 30, there were approximately 147,602,345 COVID-19 vaccines administered in the United States12

[See Below for Disclosures & Annotations]



Disclosure

Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.

The economic forecasts set forth in this material may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.

The companies presented here are for illustrative purposes only and are not to be viewed as an investment recommendation.

 

Annotations

  1. Federal Reserve. “The Beige Book: Summary of Commentary on Current Economic Conditions”. March 3, 2021
  2. Bloomberg. “Biden Eyes First Major Tax Hike Since 1993 in Next Economic Plan”. March 15, 2021
  3. The Wall Street Journal. “White House Weighs How to Pay for Long-Term Economic Program”. March 15, 2021
  4. Federal Reserve. “Federal Reserve issues FOMC statement”. March 17, 2021
  5. Federal Reserve. “Summary of Economic Projections”. March 17, 2021
  6. The Wall Street Journal. “China, U.S. Trade Barbs at First High-Level Talks Under Biden”. March 18, 2021
  7. The Wall Street Journal. “U.S. and Its Allies Sanction China Over Treatment of Uyghurs in a Collective Action”. March 22, 2021
  8. The Wall Street Journal. “Biden Administration Officials Put Together $3 Trillion Economic Plan”. March 23, 2021
  9. Reuters. “Pfizer, Moderna COVID-19 vaccines highly effective after first shot in real-world use, U.S. study shows”. March 29, 2021
  10. White House. “FACT SHEET: The American Jobs Plan”. March 31, 2021
  11. Yahoo Finance. “President Biden will unveil a $2 trillion infrastructure plan today — Here's what's in it”. March 31, 2021
  12. CDC. “COVID Data Tracker”. March 31, 2021