The Year of COVID-19
2020 was the year Covid-19 arrived and while thankfully the rollout of vaccines has started, we are still unfortunately in the midst of a difficult period.
Economies came to a shuddering halt
Markets wobbled but then recovered
Equities – recovered from March lows (down close to 30%) to end the year up 7%.
There were winners and losers in the equity market. Big tech were major winners:
- Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Tesla, Google, Facebook and Netflix between them increased in value by $3.1trn in 2020.
- And they keep buying the competition … in 2020 Google made 241 acquisitions, Apple 116, Amazon 87, Facebook 86.
Bonds – generated positive returns despite corporate bonds prices falling initially in March.
- On January 5th 2021 the Irish Government was able to raise €5.5bn on markets through a 10-year bond issue at a negative yield, -0.257%.
- Cash now costing money with negative interest being applied to cash held within pension funds.
Euro strengthened against the dollar, going from $1.12 at the start of the year to $1.23 by year end.
Oil – the price in part of the oil market (WTI Crude Oil) went negative in April before recovering to over $50 per barrel
US Presidential Election and Brexit
Biden defeats Trump in US presidential election by 306 electoral college votes to 232, having secured 81m actual votes to Trump’s 74m.
Brexit – UK leaves the EU after 34 years and 4.5 years after the Brexit referendum. One consequence is that an estimated $1.6trn of assets and 7,500 employees were transferred by financial services firms from the UK to the EU (according to EY estimates as of September 2020).