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Economic recovery for dummies | Morgan Stanley's earnings are a piece of cake |

Hi Reader, here's what you need to know for April 19th in 3:03 minutes.

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Today's big stories

  1. The Chinese economy grew at its fastest pace on record last quarter
  2. There’s still a huge amount of potential upside if you invest in America’s smaller stocks – Read Now
  3. Morgan Stanley joined other investment banks in reporting better-than-expected earnings on Friday



What’s Going On Here?

New data out on Friday showed the Chinese economy grew at its fastest pace on record last quarter, proving that this apparently unbeatable pandemic is anything but.

What Does This Mean?

The world’s second-biggest economy grew 18% compared to the same time last year. And sure, most of the Chinese economy was shut down in the first quarter of 2020 because of the coronavirus outbreak. And sure, the pandemic’s lingering effects were noticeable in the numbers, with China’s manufacturing industry – which makes up 38% of its economy – growing slower than expected. But that drop-off was more than offset by the 34% rise in retail sales, which has put China on course to smash its annual growth target of 6%. Fatality!

Why Should I Care?

For markets: The big just got bigger.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) – a major international economic organization – actually reckons China’s economic growth will go back to pre-pandemic levels this year, hitting as much as 8.4%. That tallies with the consensus that China and the US will drive the global rebound in 2021, with the latter’s economy projected to grow by a tidy 6.4%. That should come as a relief to investors, who are hoping strong economic growth will make sure this stock market rally just keeps rallying.

The bigger picture: Can’t we all just get along?
While the two biggest economies are expected to lift global growth, their tech war – recently escalated by the US’s decision to blacklist seven Chinese supercomputing firms – could do the exact opposite. In a research report out on Friday, the IMF said the US and China’s unwillingness to share tech could cut as much as 5% off the economic output of various countries around the world (tweet this). That’d be more than 10 times the damage their existing trade tariffs are estimated to have done…

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2. Analyst Take

Why America’s Small Stocks Are (Still) Worth A Little Look

What’s Going On Here?

Smaller US stocks have surged since we last wrote about them back in November: the country’s key “small-cap” index is up 40% – twice as much as its large-cap cousin.

But with that index’s rise stalling in March, you’d be forgiven for thinking the rally’s run its course.

Not quite: there are a couple of reasons why small caps still might have a lot further to climb, and why now’s the perfect entry point.

Here’s a hint: the economic recovery is coming in handy,

So that’s today’s Insight: why small caps are as good an investment now as they were a few months back, and how best to profit from their ongoing rise.

Read or listen to the Insight here


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Infinite Fest

Infinite Fest

What’s Going On Here?

Morgan Stanley might’ve been late to the party, but the investment bank finally joined three of its rivals in celebrating record-setting earnings late last week.

What Does This Mean?

Morgan Stanley’s earnings blew past expectations last quarter, with revenue from the firm’s investment banking business more than doubling compared to the same time last year. That segment raked in massive fees by helping special-purpose acquisition companies list on the stock market – just like Wells Fargo, Goldman Sachs, and JPMorgan, all of which reported blowout earnings of their own earlier in the week. So despite losing nearly $1 billion from the Archegos Capital Management debacle, Morgan Stanley still pocketed a record-breaking profit of over $4 billion.

Why Should I Care?

Zooming in: Morgan Stanley’s strategy is paying off.
Morgan Stanley spent $13 billion buying online broker E*TRADE last year, and the move looks like a shrewd one: E*TRADE – which now boasts over 7 million clients, 7% more than at the end of 2020 – benefited heavily from the burst of new retail traders last quarter. Eaton Vance was money well spent too: Morgan Stanley bought the investment management firm for $7 billion in 2020, pushing up the pot of money it looks after to $1.4 trillion dollars – from “just” $600 billion this time last year.

The bigger picture: Banks’ bread and butter looks a little stale.
The interest banks make on loans is a more stable source of revenue than, say, investment banking, making it essential to their survival. And while Morgan Stanley lent out 15% more cash last quarter, it might be worried that the four biggest US banks all reported a drop-off. Households, it seems, not only don’t need new loans: they have enough loose change to pay off existing ones. And even though businesses are keen to borrow, there’s a much cheaper way for them to do it: they can sell bonds – which currently boast ultra-low yields – to fund their future growth.

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💬 Quote of the day

“You can never leave footprints that last if you are always walking on tiptoe.”

– Leymah Gbowee (a Liberian peace activist)
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🔥 The Three Most Important Trading Signals: 6pm UK time, April 20th
👩‍🎨 Are NFTs A Digital Bargain Or Bubble?: 2pm UK time, April 21st
💡 Investing In Small Stocks: 6pm UK time, April 21st
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