Despite being roughly nine years into the second-longest bull market in history, recent headwinds have cropped up to make the start of 2018 an interesting one for markets.
As investors re-evaluate their portfolios and exposure, it’s worth exploring some of the major themes and trends that are expected to drive markets in 2018.
Predictions for 2018
Today’s infographic was done in collaboration with Swissquote, a Swiss banking group, and it highlights their five most important predictions for the rest of the year ahead.
Taken from their 2018 Market Outlook Report, which can be downloaded for free, the following graphic discusses key themes of the year such as central bank policy, European unity, China, cryptocurrencies, and emerging markets.
Enjoy the infographic? Get the full report for free from the Swissquote 2018 Market Outlook page.
Here are the high level points of Swissquote’s predictions:
1. Fed in Inflation Fighting Stance
Despite a strong economy, specifically tight labor markets, inflation has perplexingly not appeared. In Swissquote’s view, expansionary monetary policy by central banks is the primary reason for the current stretched valuations.
And of the central banks, the Fed is not only the most important – but also the most active. Expecting a sudden kick from ultra-tight labor markets to boost wage growth and consumer inflation, the Fed is again ready to act in 2018.
As a result, Swissquote sees U.S. GDP growing 2.2%, the labor market tightening, and annual core PCE inflation hitting 1.8%.
Prediction: The Fed will hike three times.
2. Unified Europe Will Emerge from Spain
The start of 2017 brought fears of the EU’s demise, as rising political populism suggested an end to EU federalism. However, despite recent events in Catalonia, Swissquote sees Europe actually emerging from 2018 more united.
Heading into 2018, economic sentiment in Europe is at 10-year highs. Further, the election of Macron in France – and the re-election of Merkel in Germany – will mean a continued push for deeper EU integration.
In 2018, Swissquote sees the following headwinds in Europe: uncertainty around independence in Catalonia, the Italian elections, and austerity in Greece.
Prediction: The powerful trio of Macron, Merkel, and Draghi will weather the storm – and their unity will have a profound effect on pricing in events such as Brexit and the Italian elections.
3. China Grabs the Political Void
China’s economy will slow in growth slightly in 2018, but the country’s regional economic dominance is undisputed. With a GDP (PPP) of $21.5 trillion, it even dwarfs India ($8.7 trillion), Japan ($5.3 trillion) and Russia ($3.4 trillion) combined.
And empowered by the volatile behavior of President Trump, China has embraced its new role as regional and global leader. Judging from the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos and the Chinese Communist party congress, Xi Jinping and China are ready to step into the light.
Prediction: China will step up efforts to further entrench its hybrid model, which includes politics and economics.
4. Cryptocurrencies are the Real “Populist” Vote
While the Brexit and Trump votes represent the protest of existing systems – there’s also a monetary component to that populism that is hiding in plain sight.
Central banks have created trillions of dollars out of thin air since the 2008 crisis, and people no longer trust the government to protect their money and wealth. As a result? People have been pouring money into bitcoins and altcoins instead.
Prediction: This “populist” vote against the monetary policy of global central banks will continue in full form.
5. Emerging Markets Lead the Growth Charge
GDP growth in emerging markets for 2017 is expected to be 4.5% – its highest point since 2015 – versus 2.1% for developed markets.
Although protectionism will continue to make the headlines, any real action will be limited, even by the Trump administration.
Prediction: The story for EM in 2018 will be a further increase in international trading. Following a trend, China has reached 15 free-trade agreements with 23 countries and regions. And like in 2017, emerging markets will continue to have more growth and higher returns as a result.
Mapped: The State of Small Business Recovery in America
Compared to January 2020, 34% of small businesses are currently closed. This map looks at the small business recovery rate in 50 metro areas.
Mapped: The State of Small Business Recovery in America
In the business news cycle, headlines are often dominated by large corporations, macroeconomic news, or government action.
While mom and pop might not always be in focus, collectively small businesses are a powerful and influential piece of the economy. In fact, 99.9% of all businesses in the U.S. qualify as small businesses, collectively employing almost half (47.3%) of the nation’s private workforce.
Unfortunately, they’ve also been one of the hardest-hit sectors of the economy amid the pandemic. From the CARES Act to the new budget proposal, billions of dollars have been allocated towards helping small businesses to get back on their feet.
Small Business Recovery in 50 Metro Areas
During the pandemic, many small businesses have either swiftly pivoted to survive, or struggled to stay afloat. This map pulls data from Opportunity Insights to examine the small business recovery rate in 50 metro areas across America.
So, has the situation improved since the last time we examined this data? The short answer is no—on a national scale, 34% of small businesses are closed compared to January 2020.
San Francisco is one of the most affected metro areas, with a 48% closure rate of small businesses. New York City has spiralled the most since the end of September 2020.
|U.S. Metro Area||% Change in # of|
Small Businesses Open
(As of Sep 25, 2020)
|% Change in # of|
Small Businesses Open
(As of Apr 23, 2021)
|7-month change (p.p.)|
|New York City||-21%||-42%||-21|
|Salt Lake City||-18%||-23%||-5|
Data as of Apr 23, 2021 and indexed to Jan 4-31, 2020.
On the flip side, Honolulu has seen the most improvement. As travel and tourism numbers into Hawaii have steadily risen up with lifted nationwide restrictions, there has been a 16 p.p. increase in open businesses compared to September 2020.
Road to a K-Shaped Recovery
As of April 25, 2021, nearly 42% of the U.S. population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. However, even with this rapid vaccine rollout, various segments of the economy aren’t recovering at the same pace.
Take for instance the stark difference between professional services and the leisure and hospitality sector. Though small business revenues in both segments have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels, the latter has much more catching up to do:
This uneven phenomena is known as a K-shaped recovery, where some industries see more improvement compared to others that stagnate in the aftermath of a recession.
The Entrepreneurial Spirit Endures
Despite these continued hardships, it appears that many Americans have not been deterred from starting their own businesses.
Many small businesses require an Employer Identification Number (EIN) which makes EIN applications a good proxy for business formation activity. Despite an initial dip in the early months of the pandemic, there has been a dramatic spike in EIN business applications.
Even in the face of a global pandemic, the perseverance of such metrics prove that the innovative American spirit is unwavering, and spells better days to come for small business recovery.
Pandemic Recovery: Have BEACH Stocks Bounced Back?
BEACH stocks—bookings, entertainment, airlines, cruises, and hotels—were pulverized at the beginning of the pandemic. Here’s how they’ve bounced back.
Pandemic Recovery: Have BEACH Stocks Bounced Back?
The travel and entertainment industries have had a volatile ride over the last year.
During the initial stages of the pandemic, when panic and uncertainty ran rife, BEACH stocks–booking, entertainment, airlines, cruises, and hotels—were left scrambling. Collectively, $332 billion in market cap washed away.
Now, it appears the tide might be turning for these companies, buoyed by vaccine breakthroughs and glimmers of hope for a return to normalcy.
This infographic looks at the growth in market cap value across BEACH stocks one year from when the WHO officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic.
Washing Back to Shore?
BEACH stocks have gained a collective $376 billion in market cap in the year since the pandemic was declared, with about half the companies trading at their respective all-time highs.
In fact, about 70% of BEACH stocks have actually outperformed the S&P 500, which returned 43.7% during the same period.
|Company||Ticker||Category||Market Cap: 03/11/20 ($B)||Market Cap: 03/11/21 ($B)||Change|
|Alaska Air Group||ALK||Airlines||5.7||8.1||42%|
|Delta Air Lines||DAL||Airlines||29.1||30.9||6%|
|Caesars Entertainment||CZR||Casino & Hotel||2.2||20.8||824%|
|Norwegian Cruise Lines||NCLH||Cruise & Casino||4.3||10.9||151%|
|Royal Caribbean Cruises||RCL||Cruise & Casino||10.8||22.4||108%|
|Carnival||CCL||Cruise & Casino||16.4||31.8||93%|
|Penn National Gaming||PENN||Entertainment & Live Events||2.6||20.4||661%|
|Six Flags||SIX||Entertainment & Live Events||1.7||4.1||142%|
|Live Nation||LYV||Entertainment & Live Events||10.8||19.3||79%|
|The Walt Disney Co||DIS||Entertainment & Live Events||201.2||357.1||77%|
|Cedar Fair||FUN||Entertainment & Live Events||1.8||2.8||57%|
|Choice Hotels International||CHH||Hotels||4.5||5.9||30%|
|Marriott Vacations Worldwide||VAC||Hotels & Resorts||3.8||7.7||103%|
|Vail Resorts||MTN||Hotels & Resorts||7.1||13.4||88%|
|Park Hotels & Resorts||PK||Hotels & Resorts||3.4||5.3||58%|
|Wyndham Hotels & Resorts||WH||Hotels & Resorts||4.2||6.4||51%|
|MGM Resorts International||MGM||Resorts & Casino||10.2||19.3||89%|
|Wynn Resorts||WYNN||Resorts & Casino||9.7||15.9||64%|
|Las Vegas Sands||LVS||Resorts & Casino||40.7||48.2||18%|
BEACH Stocks Leaders and Laggards
When dissecting this basket of stocks by industry, it’s clear that much of the recovery story is lopsided. One reason for this, despite the pandemic, is that there are more granular, idiosyncratic trends occurring within these sectors.
Let’s look at what’s propelling the leaders, and dragging down the laggards:
Leading: Online Betting
There’s reason to be bullish on gambling stocks. Since late 2018, some 20 states have legalized sports betting, with more expecting to follow. Relative to other areas, the pandemic has been kind to gambling stocks. Many of those with an online presence have witnessed a spike in traffic, as more people continue to flock towards online betting.
Within the BEACH stocks basket, Penn National Gaming and Caesars Entertainment are clear outliers, having grown an epic 661% and 823% respectively. In addition, the broader industry (measured by the BETZ ETF) has nearly doubled the performance of the S&P 500 since its inception.
The return to normalcy will be much more delayed for airlines. Global RPKs, an industry metric, are not expected to reach pre-pandemic levels until 2024.
Actions of insiders also seem to match this negative sentiment. Warren Buffett, once a staunch supporter of airlines, decided to call it quits during the pandemic—dumping his entire position.
U.S. airline executives have collectively been selling their stakes much more aggressively than in the last few years. To add insult to injury, there’s significant shorting of airline stocks as well. At a short interest of 11.6%, American Airlines is most heavily shorted BEACH stock.
In a year where social interactions and gatherings have largely disappeared, so too has much of the business activity for hotels. For instance, Hilton sales suffered a 58% decline year-over-year.
But even without the pandemic, the hotel industry had their work cut out for them, through a growing and formidable competitor in Airbnb. Airbnb can scale its network beyond what any hotel can. This is evident in its room count, which is greater than the largest hotels combined.
More Bumps On The Road Ahead?
The investing landscape today looks to be disconnected from reality, in part because of the forward-looking nature of markets. Even though things are dire today, there’s a belief that light exists at the end of the tunnel.
But the path to recovery isn’t quite so linear. When the dust settles, it’ll become more apparent which industries will “return to normal” and which have set out permanently on a new trajectory.
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