The U.S. travel industry’s total economic output plummeted 42% in 2020. A full 65% of all jobs lost in the United States were those supported by the travel industry. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the hardest-hit areas were business travel, particularly spending related to conferences, conventions, and trade shows, as well as international travel.
After more than four years of international negotiations taking place mostly behind the scenes, 132 countries — representing more than 90% of worldwide gross domestic product (GDP) and including the Group of 20 (G20) large economies — recently agreed to a new plan to reform international tax laws in an effort to “ensure that multinational enterprises pay a fair share of tax wherever they operate.”
During March 2021, the widening availability of COVID-19 vaccinations, signs of improving economic conditions, and a third, $1.9 trillion stimulus package brought about more optimistic growth projections. Even though a healthy economy could be good news for many businesses and the financial markets, rising inflation expectations caused a multi-week sell-off in U.S. government bonds that pushed up longer-term yields and sent the Nasdaq Composite Index into correction territory on March 8, 2021.
tocks suffered their worst week in quite some time, as each of the major indexes ended the week lower. Last week was the start of the second-quarter corporate earnings reporting period. Attention will be paid to reported earnings to gauge whether corporate profits can support equity valuations. Despite Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s repeated statements that the recent spike in inflation is temporary, last week’s rise in the Consumer Price Index and the Producer Price Index are likely to add fuel to the debate about the timing of the Federal Reserve’s stimulus reduction.
The holiday-shortened week can best be described as volatile. Some observers suggest investors may be retreating from stocks over uncertainties surrounding the pace of economic recovery coupled with easing inflation expectations. For much of the week, stock values road a roller-coaster ride of ups and downs, while Treasury prices climbed, pulling yields lower.
Stocks opened last week mixed. Tech stocks surged, driving the Nasdaq to an all-time high. The S&P 500 inched ahead, while the Global Dow (-0.8%), the Russell 2000 (-0.5%), and the Dow (-0.4%) fell. Besides technology, other sectors performing well last Monday included communication services, utilities, and consumer discretionary. Energy, financials, and industrials dipped lower. Treasury yields and crude oil prices declined, while the dollar was mixed.
If you pay attention to financial news, you are probably seeing a lot of discussion about inflation, which has reared its head in the U.S. economy after being mostly dormant for the last decade. In May 2021, the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U), often called headline inflation, rose at an annual rate of 5.0%, the highest 12-month increase since August 2008.
On May 7, 2021, the Colonial Pipeline, which carries almost half of the East Coast’s fuel supply from Texas to New Jersey, shut down operations in response to a ransomware attack. Colonial paid a $4.4 million ransom not long after discovering the attack, and the pipeline was reopened within a week. While there was enough stored fuel to weather the outage, panic buying caused gasoline shortages on the East Coast and pushed the national average price of gasoline over $3.00 per gallon for the first time since 2014.
After two years of decreases, interest rates on federal student loans are set to increase almost a full percentage point for the 2021-2022 school year.1 The interest rates on federal student loans are reset each year after the May auction of the 10-year Treasury note.
In general, workers seem to begin preparing for retirement almost as soon as they get their first job. However, according to the 2021 Retirement Confidence Survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI), retirement preparations do vary a bit by age group.