Market Commentary 3/31/20

Ripping Up the Playbook

In 2013 Jeffrey Laurie, owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, hired Chip Kelly as the new head coach of the Eagles.  Kelly, head coach of the University of Oregon, came to the NFL and “tore up the playbook” installing his up-tempo offensive scheme, heretofore untested at the NFL level.  Kelly lasted less than three years with the Eagles and Laurie replaced him with Doug Pederson, a coach with more traditional NFL background.  Pederson essentially “tore up the playbook” once again, leading the Eagles to their first Super Bowl victory just a few short years later. 

The playbook for the financial markets seemed solid as the new year began.  Stocks traded up, interest rates were low, inflation remained quiescent, and Fed policy somewhat accommodative.  The economy continued to grow, with expectations that Gross Domestic Product, a measure of the total economy, would grow faster than preliminary reports of growth in the final quarter of 2019.  Strong job growth contributed to declining unemployment claims, an unemployment rate of 3.5% (among the lowest in recent memory) and discussions of labor supply shortages across many industries.  The news, highlighted in the State of the Union address, may well have prompted Nancy Pelosi to “tear up the playbook” in frustration at the end of the speech.  Little did she know that just a few short weeks later a combination of events would make those histrionics seem trivial.

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