A time to celebrate progress and contributions made by women, but also to reflect on where more work must be done.
Our Top Market Takeaways for March 12, 2021.
Back at all-time highs
Compared to last week’s twists and turns, markets struck a more upbeat note this week. Interest rates stabilized throughout most of the week after their torrid move higher. The S&P 500 was sitting at a fresh all-time high heading into Friday (up +2.5% on the week), with gains for every sector: Cyclicals continue to march higher (materials +4.2%, industrials +2.2%, financials +2.1% on the week), and growth-oriented segments have managed to recoup some of their recent losses (S&P 500 growth +2.8%).
Even the broad SPAC complex, which dropped nearly -20% from its February highs to the end of last week, has clawed back +5% over the past five days. (P.S. If you are looking to get up to speed on all the SPAC buzz, don’t miss our recent piece, Making Sense of SPACs: What Investors Need to Know.)
The growth pack was boosted by soft inflation data released earlier this week. February U.S. consumer price inflation came in at 1.7% over a year ago, while the core measure, which excludes volatile food and energy components, came in at 1.3%. Crickets, tumbleweeds, a pin dropping. There will almost certainly be higher inflation readings in the coming months as economic reopening and base effects drive prices higher on a year-on-year basis, but there is almost no evidence of an overheating economy in the hard data.
In our view, inflation won’t see sustained upward pressure until the labor market heals significantly and/or housing rental prices start to rise. This helps assuage fears that prices will spike too quickly, forcing the Fed’s hand to hike interest rates and putting pressure on long-term growth companies trading at higher valuations versus the market.
Helping the pro-cyclical reflation trades were ongoing positive virus trends, better-than-expected jobs data, and the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act signed into law by President Biden yesterday. You can see all the details of the bill here, but let’s break down how much cash a married couple earning $100,000 per year (a little below average) with two children under age 6 could receive in direct payments from stimulus checks and child tax credits (which were raised to $3,600 for children under 6 and $3,000 for children 6–17) to illustrate how powerful this stimulus really is:
- Stimulus checks: $1,400 x 4 = $5,600
- Childhood tax credit (50% direct payment, 50% tax credit): $3,600
- Total cash stimulus: $9,200 (~9% of total income)
According to the JPMorgan Chase Institute, the average household only has a little over $6,000 in their checking account at any given time. So $9,200 more than doubles that. It’s enough to pay down the entirety of the average American’s outstanding credit card balance. It’s enough to cover what the average orthodontist charges for braces, or 20 months of an average auto lease. The bottom line is that the American Rescue Plan gets a lot of money directly to households.
Friday morning, the S&P 500 was in the red as the 10-year Treasury yield popped back up over 1.6%. The index is still likely to finish the week in the green, and we’re not surprised to see markets ebb and flow as investors continue to navigate the transition from an early-to mid-cycle environment.
The economy continues to heal, but women, in particular, have felt the weight of COVID-19’s economic fallout. March is Women’s History month—a time to celebrate progress and contributions made by women, but also to reflect on where more work must be done. This week’s Top Market Takeaways will consider the pandemic’s impact on women, their role in the recovery, and how they are shaping the investment landscape.
Celebrating Women’s History Month
Let’s do this in Top Market Takeaways style:
1. COVID-19 has disproportionately impacted women, especially those of color. Hard-hit areas of the economy, such as leisure, hospitality and food services, tend to be dominated by women. At the same time, many women have also had to exit the workforce to care for children amid school closures. While February’s U.S. jobs report showed that 245,000 more women are on payrolls versus January, women still have 5.1 million less jobs versus just one year ago. That’s compared to “only” 4.4 million fewer men on payrolls. The disparity is even starker for women of color. Among all demographics, the U.S. unemployment rate is the highest for Black women, currently at 8.9%—1.7x higher than both white men and women. The rate for Latinx women is also 1.6x higher.1
2. Put some respect on my check! Women control about one-third of the world’s wealth, and they’re expected to continue to grow their assets 1.4x faster than men over the next three years.2 Still, though, there’s much progress to be made—in the United States, the gender pay gap has remained static at around 18% for the past decade (the gap is even more egregious for minority women specifically—Black and Latinx women earn only 58 and 59 cents on the dollar, respectively, versus White men).3 Globally, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report 2020, it would take 257 years to close the economic participation and opportunity gap between men and women if we merely continue progressing at the same pace as the last 15 years.4
3. Are women “leaning in” to investing? You bet they are. A survey of 2,000 individuals showed that nearly 70% of people managed to save extra money throughout the pandemic. Within that group, 36% of women put that cash to work in investments versus only 21% of men.5 And for what it’s worth, it seems women may have a greater propensity to adhere to tried-and-true investing principles. Warwick Business School tracked the behaviors of 2,800 investors over a three-year period and found that: 1) women trade less frequently; 2) they tend to choose less speculative securities; and 3) they rationalize their investments with a longer-term perspective compared to men. Oh, and those women in the study outperformed the men by +1.8%!6
4. You want women on your team. Goldman Sachs recently analyzed 496 U.S. large cap equity funds, which accounted for $2.3 trillion of assets. Just 14 of those funds were run by all-women teams, while another 49 had teams where at least a third were women. By contrast, 380 of those funds had all-male teams. When the article was written in August, the median female-managed mutual fund was lagging its benchmark by -60 basis points (bps) year-to-date, compared to -160 bps for the median all-male fund—the outperformance was in large thanks to the women-led funds’ higher allocation to tech and lower weighting to financials throughout the crisis. And by the way, Goldman found that J.P. Morgan’s Tax Aware Equity Fund, run by Susan Bao over the last 12 years, ranked as the best women-only managed performer during the time of analysis.7
5. JPMorgan Chase is committed to the economic advancement and financial health of women. In 2019, our firm announced a $10 billion commitment to lend money to women with small businesses. Through September, we’ve reached half of our goal, with $5 billion already committed to women entrepreneurs so far. Furthermore, JPMorgan Chase has invested $51 million in groups aimed at supporting female founders, offering financial advice to workers most impacted by the pandemic and low-income families broadly, and think tanks focused on gender economics. We strive to be the bank of choice for women—reach out to us to learn more about our Women on the Move and Women & Wealth initiatives.
With all that said, Happy Women’s History Month!
1 U.S. Employment Situation Report. Bureau of Labor Statistics. February 2021.
2Managing the Next Decade of Women’s Wealth. BCG. April 2020.
3J.P. Morgan Perspectives: The widening gender gap, J.P. Morgan Research. March 2021.
4Global Gender Gap Report 2020. World Economic Forum. January 2020.
5New research from Barclays Smart Investor shows rise in women and young people investing under lockdown. Barclays via wealthadvisor.com. September 2020.
6Are women better investors than men? N. Stewart, Barclays, Warwick Business School. June 2018.
7U.S. Weekly Kickstart: In the centenary of women’s suffrage, mutual funds with female portfolio managers are beating their male counterparts. Goldman Sachs Research. August 2020.
All market and economic data as of March 2021 and sourced from Bloomberg and FactSet unless otherwise stated.
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