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Last month, US headline inflation recorded its biggest single jump in 13 years with a 5% gain from May 2020. In the wake of the global pandemic, rising vehicle prices, flight tickets, car insurance and hotels reflect a recovery in travel and higher oil prices.
‘Blank cheque’ companies are attracting billions of dollars from retail investors and hedge funds in search of capital gains and access to private market returns. These Special Purpose Acquisition Corporations (SPACs) promise firms a simpler, cheaper and alternative path to a public listing. They also come with caveats that investors should carefully examine.
When retail investors grouped on Reddit, a social media platform, to buy shares in a number of heavily shorted firms last month, commentators inferred that investors can move markets through online trading. The episode cost short-selling hedge funds millions. It also triggered questions about equity market valuations and whether central banks have been too generous in their pandemic responses.
On Christmas Eve, more than four years after voting to leave the European Union and one week before the end of the ‘transition’ phase, the UK and European Commission agreed the terms of their new trading relationship. The tariff and quota-free deal sets the stage for the UK to plot a recovery from its pandemic-induced recession, its deepest in more than 300 years.
2020 challenged all of us. The most severe economic contraction in decades triggered vast monetary accommodation and fiscal support packages that altered the investment landscape. Now, as we approach 2021, the promise of COVID-19 vaccines is game changing. It encourages us to anticipate a return to pre-pandemic activities.