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Have Stocks Already Priced In The “Economic Boom”?

Have Stocks Already Priced In The "Economic Boom"?

Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

The media is buzzing with claims of an “Economic Boom” in 2021. While the economy will most certainly grow in 2021, the question…

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Have Stocks Already Priced In The "Economic Boom"?

Authored by Lance Roberts via RealInvestmentAdvice.com,

The media is buzzing with claims of an “Economic Boom” in 2021. While the economy will most certainly grow in 2021, the question is how much is already “baked in?”

“The economy has entered a period of supercharged growth. Instead of fizzling, it could potentially remain stronger than it was during the pre-pandemic era into 2023.

Economists now expect the second quarter to grow at a pace of 10%, and they expect growth for 2021 to be north of 6.5%. In the past decade, only a few quarters gross domestic product growing at even 3%.”

The premise is that strong “pent up” demand will sustain the economic recovery over the next few years.

However, since market lows in 2020, the market surge has not only recouped all of those losses but has rocketed to all-time highs on expectations of surging earnings growth.

The question: How much has gotten priced in?

A Return To Normalcy

Just recently, Liz Ann Sonders wrote a piece for Advisor Perspectives. To wit:

“Vaccines and herd immunity continue to bring COVID cases down, and the economic reopening continues to kick into a higher gear. Such is what the data is starting to show. Across economic metrics, from the gross domestic product (GDP) to retail sales and job growth, boom conditions are evident.”

She is correct in her statement. However, there is a difference between an “economic boom” and a “recovery.” As shown in the chart of GDP growth below, the U.S. has already experienced a very sharp “economic recovery” from the recessionary lows. (I have included estimates for the rest of 2020, which shows a return to trend growth.)

The following chart shows the economic recovery against the massive dumps of liquidity pumped into the economy. (Estimates run through the end of 2021 using economist’s assumptions.)

Can’t Recoup Losses

Certain areas of the economy, like airlines, hotels, and cruise ships, have yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels. However, those industries only make up a relatively small amount of overall economic activity. Furthermore, these industries will continue to struggle for some time as individuals will not take “two vacations” this year since they missed last year. That activity is now forever lost.

Yes, the economy will recover most likely to pre-pandemic levels this year due to stimulus injections, but as discussed previously, what then?

“The biggest problem with more stimulus is the increase in the debt required to fund it. There is no historical precedent, anywhere globally, that shows increased debt levels lead to more robust economic growth rates or prosperity. Since 1980, the overall increase in debt has surged to levels that currently usurp the entirety of economic growth. With economic growth rates now at the lowest levels on record, the change in debt continues to divert more tax dollars away from productive investments into the service of debt and social welfare.”

Just as it is with investing, getting “back to even” is not the same thing as “organic growth.”

The Second Derivative

What is shown above is the “second derivative” effect of growth.

“In calculus, the second derivative, or the second-order derivative, of a function f is the derivative of the derivative of f.” – Wikipedia.

In English, the “second derivative” measures how the rate of change of a quantity is itself changing. Since we measure GDP growth on an annual rate of change basis, the larger the economy grows, the lower the rate of change will be. Here is a simplistic example go GDP growth:

In year 1, GDP = $1. In the second year, GDP grows to $2. The annual rate of change is 100%. However, in year 3, even though the economy grows to $3, the annual rate of change falls to just 50%.

Given the long-term historical correlation between economic growth, corporate earnings, and annualized returns, the reversion to trend growth has implications for investors. As Liz notes:

“Using three broad ranges for GDP growth historically, the lowest range (when the economy is barely growing or in recession) is accompanied by the highest annualized stock market performance. GDP is only slightly back into positive territory on an annualized basis. However, the strong growth expected in the second quarter will push GDP into the highest zone. At that level, stocks have historically posted a negative annualized return.”

The reason is that once economic growth reaches higher levels, stocks have climbed to levels incorporating those expectations. In other words, when things are as “good as they can get,” stocks begin to reprice for slower future growth rates.

That is the phase we are at currently.

How Much Pent Up Demand Is There Anyway

The main driver of the expected recovery from a “recessionary” low stems from the question of how much “pent up” demand currently exists?

If we look at durable goods as an example, such would suggest that much of the demand for long-lasting products got pulled forward by consumers over the last 12-months.

Of course, if we broaden that measure to retails sales which make up ~40% of the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) index, we see much the same.

Given PCE, which comprises nearly 70% of GDP, has already recovered much of pandemic-related decline, how much “pent up” demand remains.

However, wage growth outside of personal transfer payments (i.e., stimulus) hasn’t recovered. It is impossible to sustain higher rates of economic growth without wage growth.

Importantly, as we saw in January and February following the $900 billion stimulus bill passage, there was a short-lived surge of activity. However, once individuals spent the money, activity quickly faded. We saw the same with retail sales in April following the American Rescue Plan, which sent out $1400 checks.

After the $1400 checks get spent, what will be the driver for continued consumption at previous rates? Further, given the impact of a larger economy (as it recovers), the rate of change will decline markedly in the months to come.

Earnings Growth Inflection

“Earnings growth has a high correlation to stock market performance, but with time lags that are less well-understood. We are about halfway through the first quarter S&P 500 earnings season and so far, the results are exceptionally strong.” – Liz Ann Sonders

That is correct, and given the high correlation between earnings and market returns, we come back to the same question. Has the advance in the market accounted for the rebound in earnings? More importantly, what happens when that growth reverses?

“Relative to last year’s second-quarter plunge of nearly -31% year-over-year, expectations are that S&P 500 earnings will be up more than 46% in this year’s first quarter. The second quarter will boast a whopping 60% increase. Such should be the inflection point in terms of the year-over-year growth rate.” – Liz Ann Sonders

The problem is the S&P rose to levels that earnings growth will have difficulty supporting, particularly as the stimulus fades from the system. As with economic growth, the 2nd derivative of earnings growth is now a headwind for the markets.

Such is also the problem of “pulling forward sales.”

Conclusion

Notably, the outsized growth of the market reflects repetitive interventions into the financial markets by the Fed. Those interventions detached financial asset growth from their long-term correlation to GDP growth, where corporate revenue comes from. Historically, when the S&P 500 becomes separated from economic growth, a reversion occurred.

Currently, analysts are expecting earnings to surge well above economic growth rates. However, the flaw in the analysis is the assumption earnings growth will continue its current trend.

While there will be an economic recovery to pre-pandemic levels, a recovery is very different from an expansion.

As Liz concludes:

“Optimism is extremely elevated. Such is certainly justified by stock market behavior over the past year and recent economic releases. But some curbing of enthusiasm may be warranted given the history of the stock market as an uncanny ‘sniffer-outer’ of economic inflection points.”

As she goes on to point out, this is not a time for FOMO-driven investment decision-making. The reality is that the supports that drove the economic recovery will not support an ongoing economic expansion. One is self-sustaining organic growth from productive activity, and the other is not.

The risk of disappointment is high. And so are the costs of being “wilfully blind” to the dangers.

Tyler Durden Mon, 06/07/2021 - 12:45

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AstraZeneca antibody cocktail fails to prevent Covid-19 symptoms in large trial

AstraZeneca said a late-stage trial failed to provide evidence that the company’s Covid-19 antibody therapy protected people who had contact with an infected person from the disease, a small setback in its efforts to find alternatives to vaccines.

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Astra antibody cocktail fails to prevent COVID-19 symptoms in large trial

(Reuters; )

June 15 (Reuters) – AstraZeneca (AZN.L) said on Tuesday a late-stage trial failed to provide evidence that its COVID-19 antibody therapy protected people who had contact with an infected person from the disease, a small setback in its efforts to find alternatives to vaccines.

The study assessed whether the therapy, a cocktail of two types of antibodies, could prevent adults who had been exposed to the virus in the past eight days from developing COVID-19 symptoms.

The therapy, AZD7442, was 33% effective in reducing the risk of people developing symptoms compared with a placebo, but that result was not statistically significant — meaning it might have been due to chance and not the therapy.

The Phase III study, which has not been peer reviewed, included 1,121 participants in the United Kingdom and the United States. The vast majority, though not all, were free of the virus at the start of the trial.

Results for a subset of participants who were not infected to begin with was more encouraging but the primary analysis rested on results from all participants.

FILE PHOTO: A computer image created by Nexu Science Communication together with Trinity College in Dublin, shows a model structurally representative of a betacoronavirus which is the type of virus linked to COVID-19, better known as the coronavirus linked to the Wuhan outbreak, shared with Reuters on February 18, 2020. NEXU Science Communication/via REUTERS

“While this trial did not meet the primary endpoint against symptomatic illness, we are encouraged by the protection seen in the PCR negative participants following treatment with AZD7442,” AstraZeneca Executive Vice President Mene Pangalos said in a statement.

The company is banking on further studies to revive the product’s fortunes. Five more trials are ongoing, testing the antibody cocktail as treatment or in prevention.

The next one will likely be from a larger trial testing the product in people with a weakened immune system due to cancer or an organ transplant, who may not benefit from a vaccine.

TARGETED ALTERNATIVES

AZD7442 belongs to a class of drugs called monoclonal antibodies which mimic natural antibodies produced by the body to fight off infections.

Similar therapies developed by rivals Regeneron (REGN.O) and Eli Lilly (LLY.N) have been approved by U.S. regulators for treating unhospitalised COVID patients.

European regulators have also authorised Regeneron’s therapy and are reviewing those developed by partners GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) and Vir Biotechnology (VIR.O) as well as by Lilly and Celltrion (068270.KS).

Regeneron is also seeking U.S. authorisation for its therapy as a preventative treatment.

But the AstraZeneca results are a small blow for the drug industry as it tries to find more targeted alternatives to COVID-19 inoculations, particularly for people who may not be able to get vaccinated or those who may have an inadequate response to inoculations.

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker, which has faced a rollercoaster of challenges with the rollout of its COVID-19 vaccine, is also developing new treatments and repurposing existing drugs to fight the virus.

AstraZeneca also said on Tuesday it was in talks with the U.S. government on “next steps” regarding a $205 million deal to supply up to 500,000 doses of AZD7442. Swiss manufacturer Lonza (LONN.S) was contracted to produce AZD7442.

Shares in the company were largely unchanged on the London Stock Exchange.

The full results will be submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed medical journal, the company said.

Reporting by Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

 

Reuters source:

https://www.reuters.com/business/healthcare-pharmaceuticals/astrazeneca-says-its-antibody-treatment-failed-in-preventing-covid-19-exposed-2021-06-15

 

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Former FDA Head Takes on Exec Role at Flagship’s Preemptive Health Initiative

Stephen Hahn, the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration under former President Donald Trump, took on a new role as chief medical officer of a new health security initiative launched by Flagship Pioneering, a life sciences venture firm…

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Former FDA Head Takes on Exec Role at Flagship’s Preemptive Health Initiative

 

Stephen Hahn, the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under former President Donald Trump, has taken on a new role as chief medical officer of a new health security initiative launched by Flagship Pioneering, a life sciences venture firm that incubates and curates biopharma companies.

First announced Monday, Flagship’s Preemptive Medicine and Health Security initiative aimed at developing products that can help people before they get sick. This division will focus on infectious disease threats and pursue bold treatments for existing diseases, including cancer, obesity, and neurodegeneration. 

In a brief statement, Hahn, who served as commissioner from December 2019 until January 2021, said the importance of investing in innovation and preemptive medications has never been more apparent. 

“In my career I have been a doctor and a researcher foremost and it is an honor to join Flagship Pioneering in its efforts to prioritize innovation, particularly in its Preemptive Medicine and Health Security Initiative. The more we can embrace a “what if …” approach the better we can support and protect the health and well-being of people here in the U.S. and around the world,” Hahn said in a statement. 

During his time at the FDA, Hahn was at the forefront of the government’s effort to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. His office oversaw the regulatory authorization of antivirals, antibody therapeutics and vaccines, as well as diagnostics and other tools to battle the novel coronavirus. 

Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images

Hahn bore the brunt of verbal barbs aimed at the FDA by the former president for not rushing to authorize a vaccine for COVID-19 ahead of the November 2020 election. The second vaccine authorized by the FDA for COVID-19 was developed by Moderna, a Flagship company. 

Prior to his confirmation as FDA Commissioner, Hahn, a well-respected oncologist, served as chief medical executive of the vaunted The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Hahn was named deputy president and chief operating officer in 2017. In that role, he was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the cancer center, which includes managing more than 21,000 employees and a $5.2 billion operating budget. He was promoted to that position two years after joining MD Anderson as division head, department chair and professor of Radiation Oncology. Prior to MD Anderson, Hahn served as head of the radiation oncology department at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.

Flagship Founder and Chief Executive Officer Noubar Afeyan said the COVID-19 pandemic that shut down economies and caused the deaths of more than 3.8 million people across the world was an important reminder that health security is a top global priority. In addition, the ongoing pandemic brings into “stark focus” the importance of preemptive medications. 

Hahn, who helmed the FDA for three years and before that served as chief medical executive at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, has extensive experience overseeing clinical and administrative programs. Afeyan said the new division would benefit from Hahn’s experience as FDA Commissioner and help steer the Preemptive Medicine and Health Security initiative as it explores Flagship’s “growing number of explorations and companies in this emerging field.”

It is not unusual for former FDA heads to take prominent roles with companies. For example, former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, Trump’s first FDA Commissioner, took a position on the Pfizer Board of Directors weeks after departing his government role. He has also taken positions on other boards since then, including Aetion, FasterCures and Illumina.

 

BioSpace source:

https://www.biospace.com/article/former-fda-head-stephen-hahn-takes-cmo-role-at-flagship-pioneering-preemptive-health-initiative-

 

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg hosts first test of Live Audio Rooms in US

In April, Facebook announced a slew of new audio products, including its Clubhouse clone, called Live Audio Rooms, which will be available across both Facebook and Messenger. Since May, Facebook has been publicly testing the audio rooms feature in Taiwan.

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In April, Facebook announced a slew of new audio products, including its Clubhouse clone, called Live Audio Rooms, which will be available across both Facebook and Messenger. Since May, Facebook has been publicly testing the audio rooms feature in Taiwan with public figures, but today the company hosted its first public test of Live Audio Rooms in the U.S. The event itself was hosted by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who chatted with fellow execs and creators.

Joining Zuckerberg were Facebook VP and Head of Facebook Reality Labs Andrew “Boz” Bosworth, Head of Facebook App Fidji Simo and three Facebook Gaming creators, including StoneMountain64, QueenEliminator and TheFierceDivaQueen.

Image Credits: Facebook screenshot

The creators used their time in the Audio Room to talk more about their gaming journeys on Facebook, what kind of games they were streaming and other gaming-related matters. Zuckerberg also briefly teased new gaming features, including a new type of post, coming soon, called “Looking for Players.” This post type will help creators find others in the community to play games with while they’re streaming.

In addition, badges that are earned from livestreams will now carry over to fan groups, Zuckerberg said, adding that it was a highly requested feature by creators and fans alike.

Fan groups will also now become available to all partnered creators on Facebook Gaming, starting today, and will roll out to others in the coming weeks.

Image Credits: Facebook screenshot

The experience of using the Live Audio Room is very much like what you’d expect on another platform, like Clubhouse or Twitter Spaces. The event’s hosts appear in rounded profile icons at the top of the screen, while the listeners appear in the bottom half of the screen, as smaller icons. In between is a section that includes people followed by the speakers.

The active speaker is indicated with a glowing ring in shades of Facebook blue, purple and pink. If verified, a blue check appears next to their name.

Listeners can “Like” or otherwise react to the content as it streams live using the “Thumbs Up” button at the bottom of the screen. And they can choose to share the Audio Room either in a Facebook post, in a Group, with a friend directly or through other apps.

Image Credits: Facebook screenshot

A toggle switch under the room’s three-dot “more” menu lets you turn on or off auto-generated captions, for accessibility. From here, you can also report users or any issues or bugs you encountered.

The Live Audio Room today did not offer any option for raising your hand or joining the speakers on stage — it was more of a “few-to-many” broadcast experience.

Before today, TechCrunch received a couple of tips from users who reported seeing the Audio Rooms option appear for them in the Facebook app. However, the company told us it had only tested Live Audio Rooms in the U.S. with employees.

During the test period, Live Audio Rooms are only available on iOS and Android, we’re told.

Zuckerberg also used today’s event to talk more broadly about Facebook’s plans for the creator economy going forward.

“I think a good vision for the future is one where a lot more people get to do creative work and work that they enjoy, and fewer people have to do work that they just find a chore. And, in order to do that, a lot of what we need to do is basically build out a bunch of these different monetization tools,” explained Zuckerberg. “Not all creators are going to have the same business model. So having the ability to basically use a lot of different tools like Fiji [Simo] was talking about — for some people it might be, Stars or ad revenue share or subscriptions or selling things or different kinds of things like that — that will be important and part of making this all add up.”

He noted also that the tools Facebook is building go beyond gaming, saying that Facebook intends to support journalists, writers and others — likely a reference to the company’s upcoming Substack clone, Bulletin, expected to launch later this month.

Zuckerberg additionally spoke about how the company won’t immediately take a cut of the revenue generated from creators’ content.

“Having this period where we’re not taking a cut and more people can get into these kinds of roles, I think is going to be a good thing to do — especially given how hard hit a lot of parts of the economy have been with COVID and the pandemic,” he said.

More realistically, of course, Facebook’s decision to not take an immediate cut of some creator revenue is a decision it’s making in order to help attract more creators to its service, in the face of so much competition across the industry.

Clubhouse, for example, is currently wooing creators with a payments feature, where creators keep 100% of their revenue. And it’s funding some creators’ shows. Twitter, meanwhile, is tying its audio product Spaces to its broader set of creator tools, which now include newsletters, tips and, soon, a subscription platform dubbed Super Follow.

Zuckerberg didn’t say during today’s event when Live Audio Rooms would be available to the public, but said the experience would roll out to “a lot more people soon.”

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