To the surprise of almost everyone, especially as it occurred in the face of a global pandemic which in turn drove a global economic lockdown, the S&P 500 produced its best quarterly return since the 4th quarter of 1987 with a gain of 20.5%. This astounding performance came in the face of U.S. unemployment climbing by an unprecedented 11 percentage points in less than 6 weeks as 30 million Americans became immediately and unexpectedly unemployed as state and local governments shutdown local economies in an effort to rein in the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic.
As we started 2020, the prognosis for the global economy was solid. Little noticed though was news reports starting to come out of the Chinese city of Wuhan about a new flulike disease. Oh, how the world has changed in a mere 3 months….
In 2019, we saw stocks and bonds stage an extraordinary run with the S&P 500 having its best year since 1997. Together, stocks and bonds had their biggest simultaneous gains in more than two decades. The market was up slightly more than 30% with the Information Technology sector showing an enormous re-bound from its 4Q2019 meltdown as the sector surged by more than 50% for the year.