Good morning, Bull Sheeters. From Tokyo to London (and beyond), global investors are cheering the Joe Biden victory with remarkable enthusiasm— there’s green on the screens just about everywhere. Investor giddiness can be measured in the aptly named MSCI All-Country World Index, which hit an all-time high on Monday.
Meanwhile, coronavirus cases over the weekend topped 50 million worldwide, with over 20 million in the U.S. and Europe alone. Even still, it’s a risk-on day.
Let’s see where investors are putting their money.
- The major Asia indexes are booming in afternoon trading with Japan’s Nikkei up 2.1%.
- From Fiji to Israel, Germany to Canada, world leaders were quick to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden over the weekend. One notable exception so far has been China‘s Xi Jinping. But some in China’s state media are speaking out, saying they see the change in power as an opportunity to establish a kind of Beijing-Washington reset.
- Netflix is making a big investment in developing original content from the Asia Pacific region, hoping to build on its latest growth surge from this market.
- The European bourses are in the green with Germany’s DAX up 1.9% an hour into the trading day.
- British PM Boris Johnson was one of the first to congratulate Biden on Saturday. He no doubt had an eye on the week ahead in which a key Brexit trade talks deadline looms. Britain’s creaky economy can ill afford a messy break with the EU and tarnished relations with the U.S.
- A reboot with the U.S. is also what EU trade ministers are seeking in the post-Trump era. A big test comes this week as the European Commission is poised to slap $4 billion worth of tariffs on U.S. goods, part of the tit-for-tat Boeing-Airbus subsidy case that invades sector after sector in transatlantic trade.
- U.S. futures point to another strong open. That’s after all three major exchanges rallied last week, with the S&P 500 ratcheting its best week since April.
- Shares in Berkshire Hathaway were flat in pre-market trading after Warren Buffett’s conglomerate posted a big bottom-line beat, helped by gains in its investments.
- The corporate earnings season isn’t over. McDonald’s, Walt Disney, Cisco all report this week.
- Gold is up, trading around $1,960/ounce.
- The dollar is down.
- Crude is up, with Brent futures trading above $40/barrel.
- Bitcoin continues to churn higher, trading above $15,300.
Winners and losers: post-election edition
Last Monday in this space, I broke down the winners and losers for October, something I usually do on the first trading day of the month. I’m going back to the well this morning to update the numbers after last week’s rally.
As I mentioned last Monday, October had a Jekyll and Hyde feel. The first half boomed. The second half cratered, as stimulus talks flamed out and COVID cases spiked.
At this time last week, things looked highly uncertain as we headed into a volatile election week. To recap: Germany’s Dax had fallen more than 9% and the Dow was nearly 5% last month. Much of that damage occurred in the second half of the month.
All that pessimism, however, got wiped out once it became clearer to investors that Biden would prevail. On cue, stocks, gold (up 3.1%) and Bitcoin (up 12.7%) all rallied. The Nasdaq has climbed 8.6% since Election Day. The safe-haven dollar, always a popular trade when stocks are down, sunk 1.8% in that time.
Are investors (yet again) getting ahead of themselves? After all, President Trump has yet to concede. He may never concede.
But the global markets and world leaders have concluded it’s game over for the Trump Administration. And that’s enough to remove a cloud of uncertainty—the dreaded contested election—that had been hanging over the markets for weeks. It’s also enough to ignite the rally we’ve seen over the past week.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. This is a market that seems to see all news as good news. Layoffs, second waves, lockdowns, recession fears—none of that can keep investor enthusiasm down for long.
Watch this space. I’ll be be back at the end of the month with another winner/loser breakdown.
Ottobrata romana is an expression you hear a lot in Rome this time of year. (More so during the month of October.) It’s how you describe the sublime Indian summer weather—the sunny days, the gentle breezes, the high-pressure that sits over the city—that’s common throughout the month.
This year, that warm spell is bleeding into November, which is a real blessing for a country that’s back in a modified kind of COVID lockdown. Here in Rome, that means bars and restaurants shut down at 6 p.m. Museums, malls and gyms have closed for the entire month.
But we have the great outdoors, and the weather is still lovely—about as lovely, I imagine, as it was in Philadelphia this weekend when revelers took to the streets to dance.
With Fortune’s all-hands-on-deck election coverage quieting down, I could finally shut down my laptop and get back on my bike. On Sunday, bright and early, I headed out for the Appia antica to weave my way out of town. I’ve written about the Appian Way in this space before. But have I ever mentioned Horace?
I don’t believe so.
Horace was a well-connected poet during the reign of Augustus. He had the ear of those in power, and was often their spokesman. A gifted wordsmith and polymath, Horace had a front row seat as Rome expanded from republic to empire.
It was Horace who described the Appian Way as the “queen” of the ancient highways. And, much of her grandeur, more than 2,000 years of it, is still visible today.
In Satires, Horace wrote about his journey along the Appian Way from Rome to Brindisi, down South where the road ends. His poem reads like a sort of bumbling travelogue, but the true reason for the journey was anything but a lighthearted jaunt. As the historian Erik Jensen notes, Horace was part of a diplomatic team whose mission it was to make peace between Augustus and the forces loyal to Mark Antony.
To say these were fraught times is an understatement. The republic was as divided as ever. The last thing war-weary Romans wanted was another Caesar to plunge them back into battle.
Spoiler: that peace mission ultimately failed.
But there’s something enduring about Horace’s great Appian Way journey. He brought back to the capital a story of life beyond “great Rome,” as he calls it. He met a whole mix of people on the road, many of them industrious, kindhearted souls who helped him on his journey. They swapped tales and meals and jokes.
There was nothing overtly political about Horace’s poem, and yet there was something radical about it. In Satires 1.5, Horace leaves us with a hardly subtle reminder that we need each other to finish our journeys, to help us get from point A to point B. And, if we don’t bother to lend a hand or just say hello to a stranger, then the whole journey is kinda pointless, anyhow.
Horace doesn’t get preachy. The ending of his poem is fairly anti-climactic, actually.
He writes, “I have been taught that the gods live a life free from care/ that if nature presents a marvel it is not the gods/ who send it down from the heights of heaven in their anger./ At Brundisium both our journey and my paper came to an end.”
And this is where Postscript comes to an end today—signing off from “great Rome,” wondering where our great, collective journey goes from here.
Have a nice day, everyone. I’ll see you here tomorrow.
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