Broker Check

-    The Notable Events List    -

March 2021

“Your Guide to Relevant Recent Events”

By: Joseph R. Tranchini, CFA


Monetary

  • In a virtual webcast hosted by the Economic Club of New York, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell discussed the current state and future projections of the United States labor market1
    • Among the major takeaways was the considerable amount of slack that currently exists in the labor market1
      • The published Unemployment Rate has fallen from 14.8% to 6.3%, however this may overstate the progress made so far as a drastic decline in the labor force participation rate has artificially dropped many unemployed individuals out of the Unemployment Rate calculation1
      • After adjusting for the aforementioned effect, the true Unemployment Rate is estimated to be closer to 10% still1
    • Another major takeaway was the observation that lower income occupations have been asymmetrically affected by the economic drawdown relative to higher income occupations1
      • Aggregate Employment has decreased 6.5% since last February, however the top quartile of earners only experienced a 4% drop in employment relative to a 17% drop for the bottom quartile of earners1
      • Lower income occupations tend to be more concentrated in the areas of the economy that were, and continue to be, heavily effected by COVID-19 restrictions1
  • In the Federal Reserve’s semi-annual monetary policy report to congress, Fed Chair Jerome Powell reiterates progress the U.S. economy has experienced, but noted some headwinds7
    • Noted that the pace of improvement in the labor market has slowed primarily due to the previous resurgence of COVID-19 cases, and the associated lockdown measures, but that improved vaccine/virus trends necessitate a more positive outlook moving forward7
    • Additionally, Chairman Powell noted that the Fed will continue, at a minimum, its current pace of treasury and MBS purchases, while also reaffirming the Fed’s stance to target inflation moderately above the 2% mark in the near term7

Fiscal

  • Senate parliamentarian rules that the $15 minimum wage provision in the latest COVID-19 bill would not be compliant with budget reconciliation process rules8
    • Byrd rule limits provisions allowed to be passed via budget reconciliation to matters exclusively pertaining to taxation and spending8
  • House of Representatives passes $1.9T coronavirus relief stimulus package, however the bill is largely expected to receive multiple amendments in the Senate, including stripping-out the $15 minimum wage hike9
    • If a different version of the bill is passed in the Senate, the House of Representatives will have to re-vote on the new version of the bill9,10
    • Among the major highlights of the bill include:
      • Extension in the duration of unemployment benefits now ending on Aug 29, 2021. Those receiving aid via Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program would be allowed a maximum of 74 weeks of unemployment benefits, whereas individuals receiving aid under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program would receive a max of 48 weeks of benefits9,10
      • Unemployment benefits will also be augmented by an additional $400 per week which is also set to end on Aug 29, 20219,10
      • Direct stimulus checks to individuals. Individuals with an AGI of $75,000 ($150,000 for married couples) or lower receive the full $1,400 plus an additional $1,400 for each dependent11. Beyond the $75,000 AGI mark the phase-out begins, and individuals with an AGI over $100,000 ($200,000 for married couples) will not receive a check11

Geopolitics

  • President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping hold a 2-hour phone call to discuss numerous items including international trade, Hong Kong, and human rights violations2
    • White House plans to leave the Trump Administration’s tariffs in place and will conduct a top-to-bottom review of trade policy after Biden’s picks for USTR (Katherine Tai) and Commerce Secretary (Gina Raimondo) are confirmed2
    • Biden Administration officials have stated that the president will consult with allies in Asia and Europe before making any new decisions on tariffs2
  • Chinese government explores restricting production and export of rare-earth minerals to the United States in a bid to significantly hamper U.S. defense contractors’ production of various military items and weapons including F-35 fighter jets4
    • Move largely seen as a potential retaliation tactic the Chinese government could use if the United States forms a trading alliance with other countries aimed at reducing “coercive and unfair economic practices”4
    • Last year, President Trump signed an executive order expanding the domestic production of rare-earth minerals to limit U.S. reliance on rare-earth minerals produced in China4,5

Vaccine

  • U.S. secures an additional 200M COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna bringing the total number of vaccines secured by the United States to 600M3
    • Each vaccine requires a 2-dose regime to receive full immunization, which would suggest the U.S. will have the capacity to vaccinate roughly 300M Americans after the additional doses are delivered3
  • FDA grants Emergency Use Authorization to Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, making it the 3rd vaccine to receive such status in the United States behind Pfizer and Moderna6
    • FDA says the vaccine is about 66.1% effective in preventing moderate to severe cases of COVID-19, and will require only 1 shot as opposed to the 2 shots necessary with Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines6
    • Johnson & Johnson said it will be able to deliver 20M doses of its vaccine by the end of March6

[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. “Getting Back to a Strong Labor Market”. February 10, 2021
  2. Associated Press. “Biden in call with China’s Xi raises human rights, trade”. February 11, 2021
  3. The Wall Street Journal. “Biden Says U.S. Struck Deals for 200 Million More Covid-19 Vaccine Doses”. February 11, 2021
  4. Bloomberg. “China Eyes Rare Earth Export Curbs for U.S. Defense FT Says”. February 16, 2021
  5. Forbes. “Trump Signs Executive Order To Protect, Build U.S. Rare Earths Industry”. October 1, 2020
  6. The Wall Street Journal. “J&J’s Covid-19 Vaccine Is Safe and Effective, FDA Says, Paving Way for Approval”. February 24, 2021
  7. Federal Reserve. “Semiannual Monetary Policy Report to the Congress”. February 23, 2021
  8. NBC. “Senate ruling says Democrats can't put $15 minimum wage in Covid relief bill”. February 25, 2021
  9. CNBC. “The House passed Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus bill – here’s what’s next”. February 27, 2021
  10. CNBC. “House Covid relief bill extends unemployment benefits by 5 months, pays extra $400 a week”. March 1, 2021
  11. CNBC. “Here’s who qualifies for a $1,400 stimulus payment under the American Rescue Plan”. February 27, 2021