The Search for Income

Interest rates have risen steadily over the past six months but remain low by historical standards. That means the traditional high-quality bonds that many of us owned for decades are not doing the job for investors looking for income, while the potential for interest rates have risen steadily in recent months brings more risk in the bond market than has been evident historically. Here we look at some income ideas that may help with these challenges.

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Raising GDP and Stock Market Forecasts

The resilience of the US economy continues to exceed our expectations. With encouraging progress toward ending the pandemic, and massive fiscal stimulus in place—and more likely coming soon, our prior economic growth forecasts may prove overly conservative. In addition, we believe a strong fourth quarter earnings season supports an increase in our earnings forecasts for 2021 and, in turn, our fair value S&P 500 target.

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Markets Shrug Off Debt Levels

The level of US debt, already elevated before COVID-19 hit, skyrocketed as Congress put into place much needed fiscal stimulus in response to the pandemic, and it may jump again as the Biden administration targets its stimulus goals. Markets have seemed unfazed by fiscal stimulus measures, and they’ll likely stay that way at least through 2021, but there will likely be economic consequences in the long term.

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Small Caps Still Solid

Small cap stocks historically have performed well early in economic cycles. Given that the US economy likely came out of recession late last summer or early fall of 2020, 2021 certainly qualifies as early in this cycle. The tremendous performance by small cap stocks over the past 10 months suggests that a lasting economic expansion has begun in earnest and seems to validate the historical cycle pattern of small caps beating large caps early in cycles.

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Market Policy Projections for 2021

Assuming the Georgia Senate races play out in line with the current vote count, Democrats will soon have control of both chambers of Congress as well as the presidency, at least until mid-term elections in 2022. While there is a material difference between the Senate flipping to Democratic control and Republicans holding the Senate, we don’t believe it’s a radical shift.

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10 Economic Lessons from 2020

To say that 2020 was a unique year would be an understatement. What began as an ordinary year quickly turned into an extraordinary one—does anyone even remember it was a leap year? Initial reports in early January noted that a novel virus was beginning to spread, but few at the time could comprehend how the situation would escalate. By March, the COVID-19 pandemic gripped the entire world. So after such a tumultuous year, what have we learned?

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A New Economic Start in 2021

After modest growth to begin 2020, the economy screeched to a halt as the onset of the pandemic ended the longest economic expansion ever. A record decline in gross domestic product (GDP) in the second quarter was followed by record GDP growth in the third quarter as the economy emerged from lockdowns. After such a tumultuous year in 2020, we take a look at what’s in store for the economy in 2021.

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Stocks and Bonds Outlook for 2021

In Outlook 2021: Powering Forward, our 2021 year-end fair value target for the S&P 500 Index is 3,850–3,900, reflecting about an 8% total return from the close on December 11. Our target is based on a price-to-earnings (PE) ratio of around 20—slightly below current valuations—and our preliminary 2022 earnings per share (EPS) estimate of $190 [FIGURE 1].

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