Market Updates

Weekly Market Update 10th – 17th July 2020

By July 17, 2020 No Comments
Optimus Capital Weekly Market Commentary 3rd May 2019

This week, stock markets are up a little whilst bonds yields are flat.

Regarding the coronavirus, investors have seen good and bad news this week. The good news is Moderna’s drug trial yielded positive results as neutralising antibodies were observed in all participants. The bad news is that there has been no improvement in the Optimus Capital US ICU Severity Index nor in the rate of change of deaths in the US Sunbelt states.

However, this week we are going to put the virus to one side. Recently, we started reading two books on our summer reading list: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (the Roman emperor) and The Deficit Myth by Stephanie Kelton, which discusses Modern Monetary Theory, or ‘MMT’.

MMT has become even more important for investors to understand given the significant shift in polls towards Biden and a Democratic clean sweep in the US elections. In essence, MMT argues that the US economy has operated most of the time below potential output. This means there is lots of room for the government to launch new fiscal programmes to raise people’s welfare without inflation sharply increasing or the debt burden becoming too onerous. A veritable ‘free lunch’ as Kelton argues! Importantly, politicians would be in charge of increasing or decreasing the size of these programmes depending how low or high inflation is.

In reality, MMT means that a partisan government, not the independent Fed, will choose the inflation measure to follow (as there are several), decide how much is ‘too much’ inflation (is it 2%, 3%, 4%?) and decide which programmes to cut or who to tax more.

Many people think that MMT is akin to economic dynamite, with the potential to cause inflation and government deficits to explode with no chance of controlling them. The concern for investors is that as Biden looks to capture the Democratic left, he may be forced to include aspects of MMT in his economic policy. At the very least, his rhetoric suggests he will pursue an expansive fiscal