The odd reality of today’s stock market

Copy paste programmers

As the COVID-19 death toll in the United States continues to climb, American stocks are, in a grim divergence, recovering lost ground.

It isn’t clear precisely why locally-listed equities have risen in recent weeks, let alone today, but let’s go over the day’s results so that we’re all on the same page.

In regular trading today, the Dow Jones Industrial average rose 558.99 points, or 2.39%, while the broader S&P 500 rose 84.83 points, or 3.06%. But it was the tech-heavy Nasdaq that posted the largest rally of the major American indices by gaining 323.32 points or 3.95%. Niching into the tech sector itself, SaaS and cloud companies measured by the Bessemer cloud index rose 49.16 points, or 4.18% on the day.

Returning to the why, here are some hypotheses: CNBC wrote that the markets rallied “on improving virus outlook,” Bloomberg observed that shares rose “after signs virus outbreak is easing,” and CNN Business posited that today’s gains came “amid optimism over better-than-expected trade data from China.” On the same theme, MarketWatch wrote that the markets were up “as states weigh reopening economy,” while Barrons pointed to earnings being “better than expected.”

Reading just the headlines, you might think that things were economically fine in the United States. They aren’t; unemployment is still rising sharply around the country with millions of jobs lost each week, the nation’s food supply is slipping, farmers are dumping food while bread lines surge, and we’re still losing nearly two thousand humans each day in the US to COVID-19.

But that’s the public market. In the private markets, it’s a different tune: every person I talk to concerning the domestic private market is expecting a recession of at least a quarter or two, and most anticipate a “U” shaped recovery instead of a “V” shaped return to form. Hell, you can look at China’s re-opening and see our future; v-shaped our next months will not be.

Which is why we’re bringing you today’s stock market tallies. Things have sharply rebounded, so much so in fact that if you calculate from recent bottoms you could confuse yourself:

  • Dow Jones Industrial Average % ∆ from 52 week lows: +31.5%
  • S&P 500 % ∆ from 52 week lows: +29.6%
  • Nasdaq % ∆ from 52 week lows: +28.4%

Feeling better? I’m not.

The gap between public optimism and private pessimism is the reverse of what we’ve seen before, but it makes about as much sense. There may be a way for both the private market and public market to be right, but I doubt it. Every venture capitalist is talking about B2B companies seeing falling sales and rising churn. And since the stock market last reached record lows, the world has only gotten worse. To see gains, then, in shares as business quality crumbles is odd..

And, finally, if they aren’t then what an economy, right?