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The Pandemic Economy: Which Stocks are Weathering the Storm?

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The Pandemic Economy infographic

The Pandemic Economy: The Stocks Weathering the Storm

When markets get wacky, even the best companies can’t avoid the maelstrom.

Investors were already tiptoeing on broken glass, knowing that the longest U.S. stock market bull run in history was getting long in the tooth.

Then, when the market foresaw the potential damage that could be caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it quickly created a vortex that would suck almost everything into it.

Bizarro Market

In the last week, markets flipped into an alternate universe. Every major stock got crushed, while suddenly those holding onto stockpiles of toilet paper and soup reigned supreme.

In such unique circumstances, we wondered which companies were weathering the storm of volatility. To do this, we used Finviz to pull up a visualization of S&P 500 performance, then investigating the segments of the market that were doing well in spite of the recent plunge.

Stock selectionPerformance (Mar 5-12)Components
S&P 500-18.0% 📉The 500 largest U.S. companies by market cap
The Pandemic Economy+12.7% 📈Soup, bleach, pizza, and telecommuting stocks

A few companies not only avoided the chaos — they actually thrived over the last week.

Let’s look at why!

Not Getting Bugged Down

With global travel, events, and social gatherings screeching to a halt, it’s obvious that this is not a winning situation for any typical economy.

However, it’s hard for everyone to simultaneously be a loser, and it’s always inevitable that some stocks will benefit from any crisis — or at least not get hit as hard as their peers.

  • Zoom Video Communications (ZM)
    There’s no doubt a pandemic is tough on brick-and-mortar companies, but for most white collar workers the show must go on. As a pure play stock in the video conferencing category, Zoom is uniquely positioned as companies shift to more remote work.
  • Domino’s Pizza (DPZ)
    With people wanting to avoid crowds because of COVID-19, it’s natural to want to order in. Domino’s, as well as other companies that focus on food delivery, stand to benefit in the short term from the virus.
  • Campbell Soup Company (CPB)
    Campbell is the quintessential counter-cyclical stock, and even more so in a prepping environment. When the global outlook is gloomy, people want to stockpile — and soup is a major pantry staple.
  • Teladoc Health, Inc. (TDOC)
    If sitting in a doctor’s office with dozens of other sick people can be avoided, it seems it would be regarded as a prudent decision. For this reason, remote health services are an obvious focus for investors during the pandemic.
  • The Clorox Company (CLX)
    Wash your hands. Wash your hands. Have you heard that you should wash your hands to avoid the spread of the coronavirus? Clorox benefits from this sudden interest in sanitation and cleanliness.
  • Everbridge, Inc. (EVBG)
    When times are uncertain, global decision-makers want to get as much quality information as possible. Everbridge offers a risk intelligence platform that provides this service.
  • Virtu Financial, Inc. (VIRT)
    Whether markets are going up or down, large amounts of volume and volatility are a good thing for financial services companies that make money from high frequency trading.

Not all of these companies are in the green — some have simply traded sideways — but on average, they’ve seen a 12.7% bump in price over the last week.

Whether that will last in a fast-changing news environment is another story.

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Markets

U.S. Debt Interest Payments Reach $1 Trillion

U.S. debt interest payments have surged past the $1 trillion dollar mark, amid high interest rates and an ever-expanding debt burden.

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This line chart shows U.S. debt interest payments over modern history.

U.S. Debt Interest Payments Reach $1 Trillion

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

The cost of paying for America’s national debt crossed the $1 trillion dollar mark in 2023, driven by high interest rates and a record $34 trillion mountain of debt.

Over the last decade, U.S. debt interest payments have more than doubled amid vast government spending during the pandemic crisis. As debt payments continue to soar, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that debt servicing costs surpassed defense spending for the first time ever this year.

This graphic shows the sharp rise in U.S. debt payments, based on data from the Federal Reserve.

A $1 Trillion Interest Bill, and Growing

Below, we show how U.S. debt interest payments have risen at a faster pace than at another time in modern history:

DateInterest PaymentsU.S. National Debt
2023$1.0T$34.0T
2022$830B$31.4T
2021$612B$29.6T
2020$518B$27.7T
2019$564B$23.2T
2018$571B$22.0T
2017$493B$20.5T
2016$460B$20.0T
2015$435B$18.9T
2014$442B$18.1T
2013$425B$17.2T
2012$417B$16.4T
2011$433B$15.2T
2010$400B$14.0T
2009$354B$12.3T
2008$380B$10.7T
2007$414B$9.2T
2006$387B$8.7T
2005$355B$8.2T
2004$318B$7.6T
2003$294B$7.0T
2002$298B$6.4T
2001$318B$5.9T
2000$353B$5.7T
1999$353B$5.8T
1998$360B$5.6T
1997$368B$5.5T
1996$362B$5.3T
1995$357B$5.0T
1994$334B$4.8T
1993$311B$4.5T
1992$306B$4.2T
1991$308B$3.8T
1990$298B$3.4T
1989$275B$3.0T
1988$254B$2.7T
1987$240B$2.4T
1986$225B$2.2T
1985$219B$1.9T
1984$205B$1.7T
1983$176B$1.4T
1982$157B$1.2T
1981$142B$1.0T
1980$113B$930.2B
1979$96B$845.1B
1978$84B$789.2B
1977$69B$718.9B
1976$61B$653.5B
1975$55B$576.6B
1974$50B$492.7B
1973$45B$469.1B
1972$39B$448.5B
1971$36B$424.1B
1970$35B$389.2B
1969$30B$368.2B
1968$25B$358.0B
1967$23B$344.7B
1966$21B$329.3B

Interest payments represent seasonally adjusted annual rate at the end of Q4.

At current rates, the U.S. national debt is growing by a remarkable $1 trillion about every 100 days, equal to roughly $3.6 trillion per year.

As the national debt has ballooned, debt payments even exceeded Medicaid outlays in 2023—one of the government’s largest expenditures. On average, the U.S. spent more than $2 billion per day on interest costs last year. Going further, the U.S. government is projected to spend a historic $12.4 trillion on interest payments over the next decade, averaging about $37,100 per American.

Exacerbating matters is that the U.S. is running a steep deficit, which stood at $1.1 trillion for the first six months of fiscal 2024. This has accelerated due to the 43% increase in debt servicing costs along with a $31 billion dollar increase in defense spending from a year earlier. Additionally, a $30 billion increase in funding for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation in light of the regional banking crisis last year was a major contributor to the deficit increase.

Overall, the CBO forecasts that roughly 75% of the federal deficit’s increase will be due to interest costs by 2034.

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