A Shot in the Arm: Getting to the Other Side with a Post-Vaccine Economic Recovery02/19/2021

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The 2020s haven’t got off to the roaring start we all had hoped for. We’re a year into the worst pandemic in a century, and it’s brought along with it the deepest economic contraction since the Great Depression. While the rebound in economic activity following last spring’s shutdown was initially sharp, it’s been slowing in recent months. It seems the long, slow seep of COVID-19 has left almost no aspect of “normal life” untouched.

Not all is gloomy, however. The most encouraging development was the arrival of multiple vaccines in December. The fact that they were created in less than a year is an astounding scientific achievement, to say the least (and a reminder of the importance of the earlier, broader scientific research that made them possible). The COVID-19 vaccine rollout is underway, giving us hope that we may turn the corner soon, with a more robust economic outlook in the second half of 2021. However, the recovery is still likely to remain uneven in the first half of the year as the services economy faces headwinds while distancing restrictions are in place.

Though challenges remain, the recovery is expected to broaden as vaccinations bring the virus under control. The post-vaccine recovery is primed to receive a shot in the arm from pent-up consumer demand, record fiscal and monetary stimulus, and an elevated national savings rate. However, we won’t be able to get to the other side economically until the pandemic is in the rear-view mirror, or at least largely contained and its threats diminished. That other side is expected at some point this year, possibly as early as this summer—but it’s unlikely the next stages of the recovery will begin with the flip of a switch, and instead will ramp up in phases.

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Commentaries are published by Cetera Investment Management LLC, an SEC registered adviser owned by Cetera Financial Group. Cetera Investment Management provides market perspectives, portfolio guidance, model management, and other investment advice to its affiliated broker-dealers, dually registered broker-dealers and registered investment advisers.

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