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Key takeaways:

  • The US consumer boom started in March. Europe will moderately follow by late summer. At the same time, China is already curbing its efforts.

  • Spring cleaning: the earnings season is a standing invitation to tweak single positions.

US retail sales did not jump 3%, 5%, or 7% – no, 9.8% was the increase in March versus February 2021. “But that is a lot, Joe”, they yell at me whenever I hit the home shopping channel by mistake. “Yes, fantastic, Jay, and for this hour we have another offer you can’t possibly turn down.” You know the tune. Even our economists upgraded their growth projections in the wake of the latest releases. They had seen it coming, but you tend to underestimate such things before the stampede arrives.

Unlike US consumers, we are not being carried away by a shopping spree. The US is exhibiting a frontloaded consumer stimulus on steroids. Europe will only moderately follow after the summer, while China has already entered the post-recovery phase and is in for a spring cleaning of its policy measures and financial markets. Our 2021 macroeconomic expectations: case confirmed.

Prospects are good
Any aspect troubling the outlook is taking a backseat – most prominently, the pandemic. But hey, financial markets are not about guessing infection rates or vaccine success but about gauging economic prospects, and the bourses tell us: prospects are good, at least for now. Vaccine supply will be ramped up massively in the coming months, which allows for more reopenings of the economy, and policy support is plentiful. The main risk that remains is that vaccines may fail a few mutations down the road, but this is a bridge that bourses will only cross when they get to it. Other major pressure points are blockchain euphoria and the Chinese debt clean-up. The cryptocurrency run leaves you speechless (see our number of the week), but no one wants to be a party pooper. And getting in the way of cryptocurrency investors when it comes to bitcoin is like standing between US shoppers and a clearance electronics outlet these days. Better not try it.

Conclusion for investors
We think this is not the time for bold moves. The earnings season is a standing invitation to tweak some positions.

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Markets Explained

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