MARKET UPDATE: December 21, 2020

2020 is quickly drawing to a close. Hanukkah has passed.  On Friday we will celebrate the birth of Christ.  And then, in eleven days, we will begin the year 2021 with new hope and optimism.

For me, 2020 will be the year I will forever remember as the year my first grandsons were born.  I will forever remember the look of amazement on the face of my wife of 41 years as she saw the boys for the first time. I will forever remember the joy expressed first by our daughter and then our son as they introduced us to their children for the first time.  I will forever remember thanking God for the gift of healthy, precious new life.

Like you, I will also forever remember the death and sorrow caused by the invisible enemy, COVID-19.   We learned that a pandemic really can impact the entire planet.  We learned that when government and industry work together to unleash the unrivaled intellectual power of our scientists and researchers, we can get a vaccine from concept to distribution in less than 12 months.  We learned the incredible value of our nurses and doctors as they worked tirelessly to treat and save millions infected by the virus.  We learned that “essential workers” are often providing a service we take for granted, until we don’t.  We learned that Clorox wipes and toilet paper are sometimes more valuable than a precious metal. We learned that many can perform their work efficiently remotely.  We learned how to quarantine.  We learned how to social-distance. We learned that mask wearing is no longer reserved for children trick-or-treating. Yes, we learned much about living in 2020.

Our Federal Reserve members continue to provide the most effective policies in support of an economy struggling with nearly 13 million people unemployed.  With rates locked in at historic lows and multiple lending programs in place, the monetary policy encourages businesses and consumers to borrow, spend, and invest.  As evidenced by the results of the U.S. equity markets, the policies have provided needed insurance to many American businesses and consumers, resulting in an economy prepared to move forward rather than collapse under the weight of COVID.  We are thankful for the actions of the FED.

Conversely, our Congress continues to behave in a partisan manner.  The current stimulus plan, expected to be approved before Christmas, is substantially pared from the deal turned down by the House before the election.  The pre-election battle was over a $3 trillion stimulus bill.  The current bill is said to be approximately $900 billion—substantially less money and virtually nothing for the millions of small businesses standing on the edge of the business closure cliff.  We pray for the survival and prosperous return to business for the struggling closely held business owners throughout the country. We encourage everyone to support your local merchants—they are counting on you.

This Christmas will be a quieter, calmer, less busy Christmas than any I remember.  Gift buying has largely been done on-line.  Christmas parties and gatherings have been cancelled.  Our traditional Christmas Eve morning shopping trip to the Strip District for fresh flowers, breads, meats, fish, and cheeses will be replaced by a restful morning with nowhere to go and nothing to do. Our regular evening gathering of extended family and friends will be replaced with a charming, immediate-family only affair.

(From my earliest childhood memories, Christmas has always been celebrated with extended family and friends.  As a child, Christmas Eve was spent with my mom’s family and friends and Christmas Day with my father’s.  Later, after the death of my mom’s brother, the Christmas Eve gathering migrated to our home, where it has been hosted for 28 years.)

Having the opportunity to communicate with and serve you, our clients and friends, is a special blessing that we cherish.  Having the opportunity to do so now, during the COVID Christmas of 2020 allows us to extend our heartfelt gratitude for placing your trust and confidence in us.  Collectively, all members of the PWA firm say THANK YOU and MERRY CHRISTMAS.

May the Peace and Joy of Christmas bring you abundant happiness.

 

Be well.

Joseph A. Scarpo

Founder & CEO

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