Tuesday Takeaway

Market Insights:
October 12, 2021

Posted on October 11, 2021

The Cost of Lockdowns

Brian S. Wesbury, Chief Economist
Robert Stein, Deputy Chief Economist
Date: 10/11/2021

In 2009, after overly strict mark-to-market accounting rules were altered, we said the Financial Crisis was over.  It was hard to get our voice heard, though, because both sides of the political aisle were busy saying the economy stunk.  Political liberals tried to use the crisis to grow the government and increase bank regulation.  Political conservatives said it was a “sugar high” and that President Obama was going to cause a Depression.  It was all spin, all the time.

That’s what it seemed like last Friday, when the September jobs report was spun into terrible news.

Yes, nonfarm payrolls rose an underwhelming 194,000 in September, well below the consensus expected 500,000.  Meanwhile, the labor force (the number of people working or looking for work), declined 183,000.  Some liberals seized on these figures to say (1) the expiration of bonus unemployment benefits didn’t boost jobs like free-market supporters claimed, (2) women are hesitant to get jobs because of COVID and kids at home, and (3) the economy needs more stimulus.

But the jobs report only captured the first couple weeks of expired benefits, and, as a result, it’s too early to tell the real impact of the expiration.  Many recipients may have piled up enough savings to be patient in re-entering the labor force.  Meanwhile, vaccines, perhaps boosters, and waning COVID case counts should help more sectors return to normal.  And if the amount of stimulus applied to the economy already hasn’t worked, what makes anyone confident even more stimulus would work?  Wouldn’t it call for a different strategy entirely? 
The bottom line is that the employment report really wasn’t that bad.  It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t awful, either.  Payrolls were revised up a combined 169,000 for prior months. Much of the weakness in September itself was due to public school jobs that are still not back to normal due to COVID.  The civilian employment measure of job creation was up a healthy 526,000.  And, most importantly, the number of hours worked rose 0.8% in September, the equivalent of more than one million jobs.  In addition, wages per hour rose another 0.6%.
At this point, we expect a much stronger employment report for October.  Supply chain problems, vaccine mandates at private companies, kids not being back in school…all of this…mean a more volatile economic environment, but easy money from the Fed and less fear of COVID are continuing to boost economic activity.  Yes, some disappointing numbers, but the economy has not ground to a halt.

Right now, third quarter real GDP growth looks like it’s coming in soft – at around a 2.0% annual rate, maybe below – and that report arrives just six days before the next Fed announcement.  But we also expect both faster job growth and real GDP growth in the fourth quarter.  As a result, Jerome Powell is likely to follow through on his intention to start tapering in November.  This may cost him his job, but even if the Fed does taper it will still be easy.

As it’s happened in the past, economic reports have become a political football, with each side trying to use the data to score points for their side, greasing the wheel of politics to try to get policy or elections moving in their preferred direction.  What’s important for investors is to focus on the data and underlying economic forces, not the narrative driven by politics.

This report was prepared by First Trust Advisors L. P., and reflects the current opinion of the authors. It is based upon sources and data believed to be accurate and reliable. Opinions and forward looking statements expressed are subject to change without notice. This information does not constitute a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any security

Weekly Market Insights

Stock Index Performance (10/11/2021)

Dow Jones Industrial Avg. (34,746)1.27%15.17%24.57%9.72%16.35%
S&P 500 (4,391)0.83%18.21%29.27%18.39%17.47%
NASDAQ 100 (14,821)0.22%15.63%29.23%48.88%26.18%
S&P 500 Growth0.47%18.15%28.38%33.46%21.65%
S&P 500 Value1.24%18.28%30.62%1.35%12.34%
S&P MidCap 400 Growth-0.12%11.19%26.75%22.77%14.44%
S&P MidCap 400 Value0.59%24.25%47.90%3.71%12.26%
S&P SmallCap 600 Growth-0.64%15.95%41.25%19.56%15.30%
S&P SmallCap 600 Value0.76%28.94%56.79%2.48%12.76%
MSCI EAFE0.29%7.84%22.38%7.82%8.87%
MSCI World (ex US)0.68%5.97%20.77%10.65%9.02%
MSCI World0.72%14.47%27.18%15.90%14.18%
MSCI Emerging Markets-1.41%-1.76%17.29%18.31%9.11%

S&P Sector Performance (10/11/2021)

Communication Services0.05%23.81%39.46%23.61%13.56%
Consumer Discretionary0.90%11.96%17.66%33.30%19.41%
Consumer Staples1.42%6.45%11.20%10.75%9.28%
Health Care-0.33%13.16%20.13%13.45%14.16%
Information Technology0.29%17.28%29.36%43.89%28.84%
Real Estate-0.75%24.76%24.74%-2.17%11.46%

Bond Index Performance (10/11/2021)

U.S. Treasury: Intermediate-0.42%-1.40%-1.43%5.78%2.02%
GNMA 30 Year-0.34%-1.22%-0.92%3.68%1.89%
U.S. Aggregate-0.77%-2.05%-1.19%7.51%2.94%
U.S. Corporate High Yield-0.33%4.19%9.60%7.11%6.35%
U.S. Corporate Investment Grade-1.16%-2.03%0.86%9.89%4.54%
Municipal Bond: Long Bond (22+)-0.27%1.28%5.04%6.25%4.32%
Global Aggregate-0.66%-4.41%-1.23%9.20%2.20%

Key Rates (10/11/2021)

Fed Funds0.00% – 0.25%2-yr T-Note0.32%
LIBOR (1-month)0.09%5-yr T-Note1.06%
CPI – Headline5.30%10-yr T-Note1.61%
CPI – Core4.00%30-yr T-Bond2.16%
Money Market Accts.0.29%30-yr Fixed Mortgage3.13%
1-yr CD0.50%Prime Rate3.25%
3-yr CD0.58%Bond Buyer 403.49%
5-yr CD0.74%  

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