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Investing

Giving thanks

From essential workers to a new commitment driving racial equality, here are five things we are thankful for this year.


Our Top Market Takeaways for November 25, 2020.
 

Giving thanks 

This Thanksgiving will be different from others. Although we may not be able to celebrate each of our own holiday traditions this year, we've found that we can celebrate gratitude just about anywhere. Or at least on any screen.  

We need not recap the year that was (and is still going), but needless to say, 2020 has been challenging. A lot of bad things have happened…but we’ve also witnessed remarkable resilience. We’re dedicating this week’s Top Market Takeaways to just a handful of things we’re thankful for this year.

1) We’re thankful for medical professionals’ perseverance and our essential workers’ dedication to getting us through this crisis. We’re humbled by the scientific community’s ingenuity in working for a solution to a seemingly insurmountable challenge as we move toward a vaccine.

2) We're thankful for the unprecedented monetary and fiscal support that got us through the spring and summer as central bank action provided access to financing for businesses and the CARES Act replaced incomes for unemployed workers. The rebound in the labor market has been remarkable—the U.S. economy has seen five consecutive months of job gains, amounting to nearly 11.9 million jobs added. What’s more, the U.S. housing marketing is booming and consumer spending is strengthening globally, which gives us confidence that the economic healing process can continue, even as we wait for the distribution of a vaccine.

At the same time, we can't let the economic bright spots blind us to the reality that many Americans have yet to experience any recovery at all. Over 10 million Americans are still unemployed, with almost half of those losses coming from the leisure and hospitality, retail, and health and education sectors. These high-contact sectors continue to struggle, and while we’re seeing signs of improvement, we believe continued support from the government is needed to help these industries fully recover.

3) We're thankful we didn’t “go to cash.” When global equity markets suffered their sharpest-ever drawdowns in recorded history (the MSCI World Index fell -34% from peak on February 19 to trough on March 23), we were cautious, but we had an array of tools at our disposal to accordingly calibrate risk in our investment portfolios. For example, we reduced our overweight to stocks and held a full duration allocation to core bonds—which we believed would help our portfolios hold up better in a downturn.

But there is one measure to reduce risk that we did not take: moving to cash. While the safety of cash might have been enticing, the opportunity cost of doing so was high: We could have missed the remarkable recovery rally. Instead, we added to different types of bonds because they offered both a defensive buffer and upside return potential. The chart below helps illustrate this value of diversification—by staying invested and using bonds as a ballast in portfolios, the experience throughout this crisis was smoother and recovery was sooner than with an all-stock portfolio. And so we’re thankful our fixed income strategists and our fund managers opted to de-risk by extending exposure to core bonds (we call it “adding duration”), instead of “going to cash.” 

4) We’re thankful for what J.P. Morgan is doing to advance racial equity. As described above, the COVID-19 crisis (and uneven recovery) has exacerbated the pre-existing issue of wealth inequality in the United States, and the inequities that Black and Latinx communities face in particular. We’re grateful our firm’s leaders decided that now is the time to take meaningful action in addressing the systemic inequities that have plagued the United States for so long.

The firm announced last month that we will harness our expertise in business, policy and philanthropy, and commit $30 billion over the next five years to drive an inclusive recovery, support employees and break down barriers of systemic racism. The commitment includes loans, equity and direct funding to: 1) promote and expand affordable housing and homeownership for underserved communities; 2) grow Black- and Latinx-owned businesses; 3) improve financial health and access to banking in Black and Latinx communities; and 4) accelerate investment in our employees, and build a more diverse and inclusive workforce.

5) We're thankful to have the opportunity to help you achieve your financial goals. This year has underscored the value of having a well thought out financial plan—and sticking to it. Why are you investing in the first place? Is it to get your money to grow for eternity, over multiple generations? Is it to pay for your child’s future education costs? Is it simply to protect it from losing value?

Our goals-based approach reminds clients to stick to their plans, even in times of stress and market volatility. Our team at J.P. Morgan tailors investment recommendations to align with our clients’ goals. We want to help clients reach their investment destinations without taking unnecessary risks—we work to understand how much risk is required to achieve their goals, and how much risk they can afford to take.

Finally, although we miss the office routine, we’re thankful for all the Zoom conversations with co-workers and clients, where we were invited into homes and even had the pleasure of meeting family members and pets. As one colleague put it, “We are isolated, but not alone…and in some ways are even closer to each other now, and I am thankful for that.”

Happy Thanksgiving.


All market and economic data as of November 2020 and sourced from Bloomberg and FactSet unless otherwise stated.

We believe the information contained in this material to be reliable but do not warrant its accuracy or completeness. Opinions, estimates, and investment strategies and views expressed in this document constitute our judgment based on current market conditions and are subject to change without notice.

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  • The MSCI China Index captures large- and mid-cap representation across China H shares, B shares, Red chips, P chips and foreign listings (e.g., ADRs). With 459 constituents, the index covers about 85% of this China equity universe. Currently, the index also includes Large Cap A shares represented at 5% of their free float adjusted market capitalization.
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This material is for informational purposes only, and may inform you of certain products and services offered by
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