Days of Our Lives! Some may remember the popular soap opera which has aired on NBC since 1965. As with all the shows of the genre, successful soap operas seemed to have a few things in common; drama, multiple intertwining plots and continuing stories.
This past Wednesday began the next chapter in the American story. The inauguration of the 46th president seems to share factors of successful soap operas. The media, pundits and talking heads have begun discussion of President Biden’s initiatives and their potential impacts. Policy impacts for new administrations are rarely as swift as market commentators predict, as they often take 12-18 months to take hold. To complicate the timetable this go-around, the COVID pandemic rages on both domestically and around the world. Reaction to the third wave has been patchy ranging between “carry on” to “zombie apocalypse” domestically and internationally, for example, Montreal, normally as vibrant as NYC, is a ghost town after 8 pm due to curfews.
Of the near-term decisions, another COVID relief package is expected. This is in addition to the $908 Billion package passed about a month ago. The amount nor the timing has been set. Headlines have suggested $1.1 – $1.9 Trillion within the next few weeks. An injection into people’s pockets and business coffers will certainly add to consumer and business confidence. At some point, the longer-term effects of such large deficits will need to be dealt with and will have an impact.
Infrastructure spending has been promised for at least the past four presidential cycles with U.S. roads, bridges and other ailing infrastructure in need of proactive care or replacement. Reactive repair can only go so far. Should serious measures be taken, this could be a boon to base commodities, construction firms (and related industries) and overall employment.
COVID testing and vaccine distribution are likely to see a shot in the arm as well. Distribution, specifically, is in need of assistance with stories of wasted vaccines, shotgun sign ups, and idle resources don’t seem to be getting the job done. A focused coordinated effort on mass public inoculation will definitely go a long way to getting on the path to normal… a phase everyone is waiting for.
In recent months, both political parties have been critical of “big tech,” especially social media companies. Social media companies are protected under Section 230, which lets social media companies escape legal liability by claiming they are simply a billboard service. At the same time, they act as the ultimate editor of posts. Section 230 has allowed social media companies to reap a lot of reward with little risk while dwarfing traditional media. This has morphed into non-transparent monopolistic behavior over the years. Neither political party is in favor of the current status for different reasons and we would expect big changes to occur this year in this area.
The next chapter of the American story has yet to be written, but there are elements left over from the previous chapter which can use some attention. Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives. We hope you had a good week and that this is a helpful insight as the year begins.