It’s official: This was the shortest recession on record

In November, I wrote an analysis arguing that this recession ended in April last year already. Last week, the NBER Recession Dating Committee officially determined the end of the recession. And what did they conclude: The recession ended in April 2020. This makes it the shortest recession on record.

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Summer reading: Probabilities of tail-events

What is the likelihood that we will see high inflation? What is the likelihood that we will see deflation? What is the likelihood that the stock market will crash? And what is the likelihood that it will continue rising? How likely is it that real estate prices will fall, and how likely is it that they will rise? And what about the exchange rate? Find the answers to these questions in this summer story.

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From Main St. to Wall St.: Expected returns

In this final post dealing with my book From Main Street to Wall Street, I describe how one can use insights gained from its initial parts to make predictions about the future. Along the way, I discuss how likely it is that we are heading for a recession (the likelihood is low) and why we should expect low returns going forward. I also give you my best guess of the expected real return from US stocks. This is low, too.

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From Main St. to Wall St.: The business cycle

What is the relation between economic activity and the stock market over the business cycle? This blog post presents some of the conclusions from my book From Main Street to Wall Street. One conclusion is that the business cycle has a strong impact on the stock market, another that post-1945 business-cycle dynamics are very different from pre-1945 business-cycle dynamics.

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Expected returns, spring 2021 forecasts

Today, May 4, 2021, the Council for Return Expectations publishes its updated forecasts. We still expect very low – negative – returns on safe assets, though not as negative as we expected six months ago. We also expect marginally lower returns on risky assets. Compared to six months ago, we thus expect a lower equity risk premium.

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Yields and inflation expectations

During the last couple of weeks, yields have been rising and stock markets falling. Standard market turbulence is not interesting for this blog – stocks go up and down, most of the time up, and yields fluctuate – but intriguing (and expected) patterns characterize recent events.

Everybody seems to agree what is going on markets these weeks: Vaccines are successful and being rolled out, so economies will open up soon, and Biden will get his stimulus package to the tune of USD1.9tn. These two things (an already strong economy when opening up and on top of that a large stimulus package) will lead to very strong growth during the second half of 2021. Inflation will rise and the Fed will have to tighten monetary policy. The expected rise in inflation and the policy rate leads to increases in yields today. This hurts stocks. These US developments spill over to other countries.

This story largely makes sense. Looking at the data, however, interesting outstanding issues remain.

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The global cost of the crisis

Based on IMF forecasts, I calculate the global cost of the crisis as foregone (because of the pandemic) global economic activity up until 2024. The cost amounts to USD 23,600bn, a quarter of global output in 2019. The cumulative output loss is almost twice as large in developing and emerging economies as in advanced economies, though China is an outlier. The calculation represents a lower bound on the final cost, as economic activity might not recover until 2024. Also, the calculation does not include health-induced costs, the inclusion of which would further increase the cost.

As the final (at least for the time being) part of my analyses of the cost of the crisis (link and link), I present here my calculation of the global cost of the crisis.

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