Indexed out

As the reopening of state economies started to stir the animal spirits, Trump had seen enough. “Stock market up BIG” he tweeted one handed, before pausing and thinking it best for the fan-base to go all in. Tap tap, tap tap: “The transition to greatness has started“. For supporters, the good news is that this transition is also “ahead of schedule“. With the Dow through 25,000, the S&P the right side of the 3000 mark, and a light heat under the cyclical trade as hopes of an early vaccine oiled up sentiment, the positive tone to markets is stunning. And yet, with unemployment data still sugar coated by government pay cheques, the extent of the damage to the real economy remains hidden from view. Indeed KKR believe that only 30% of those currently throwing rubber rings for the dog in the back porch will get to go back to work. The unemployment data could remain ugly for some time. KKR also note that the S&P 500, is now an index that is dominated by five stocks and “is not reflective of global markets or the global economy”. Looking at the index from a sector standpoint, and just three sectors, account for almost 50% of the index’s total market capitalisation. For a taste of the real economy, you need to go down, deep: the Russell 2000 is the real proxy for main street. And the numbers there are not so good. The same is true for other sectors that measure the pulse of the economy such as banks, travel and leisure. All told, stock markets have moved quickly to reprice the opening up of economic activity egged on by the massive Central Bank support, but from here, headline returns may start wheezing air. For active managers keen to outperform the index, the real juice can be found in the dislocated prices loitering within the index. And there, opportunities abound.