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Stimulus checks from President Joe Biden’s huge relief package, enacted last week, are just making their way out the door. But Wall Street is already looking ahead to his administration’s next priority: infrastructure.
“The $1.9 trillion stimulus has been adopted without much ado and the Biden administration has now set its sight on a big figure infrastructure bill,” AFS analyst Arne Petimezas told clients Monday.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has indicated that no time will be wasted getting to work.
“Infrastructure, education and training, climate change [and] other longer-run priorities will be on our list to address next,” Yellen said in an NBC interview last week.
But there are scant details so far — leaving investors to hazard a wide range of guesses on exactly how ambitious the legislation will be.
Goldman Sachs expects the White House to propose at least $2 trillion for infrastructure, but believes the price tag could reach as much as $4 trillion if the next fiscal package also tries to tackle issues relating to child care and health care.
In addition to the size and scope of the package, expect much of the coming discussion to focus on how the US government plans to pay for the initiative.
“Increases in the corporate and capital gains tax rates look likely to finance a portion of this, though we believe it will be difficult for Congress to agree on more than around $1 trillion in such offsets,” Goldman strategists said over the weekend.
On the radar: A rise in corporate taxes could cause traders to reassess their sanguine view of earnings. Conversation surrounding the package could also fuel jitters about inflation and government bonds, which recently contributed to a spike in yields and a slump in high-growth tech stocks.
Wall Street is trying not to get ahead of itself. For now, Citigroup estimates that the next package will include about $750 billion for infrastructure and $1 trillion to extend the enhanced child tax credit, and will be financed in part by raising the corporate tax rate to 28% from 21%. But it also is penciling in a 30% probability that “nothing is passed before the end of the year.”
Investor insight: Stock pickers who want to bet on an infrastructure plan have plenty of names to choose from. Some may already be benefitting from the hype.
US Concrete (USCR) is up 67% this year, while Caterpillar (CAT) has gained nearly 26%. The iShares US Infrastructure ETF (IFRA) has risen 16% during the same period. The sector will be under the microscope in the weeks and months to come as the goalposts are set and debate over the legislation takes shape.
Could US economic growth rival China’s this year?
For decades, China’s economy has grown much faster than America’s. But that could change in 2021, as the US recovery from the pandemic gains momentum.
Details, details: Economists have swiftly upgraded their US growth forecasts thanks to the passage of Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus package, which is far larger than many thought possible just a few months ago, my CNN Business colleague Matt Egan reports.
Goldman Sachs is calling for 2021 US GDP growth of 7%, while Morgan Stanley predicts 7.3% growth. If realized, that level of growth would surpass the Chinese government’s modest official target of more than 6%.
Disclaimer: That estimate is thought to be extremely conservative. Economists polled by Refinitiv actually expect China’s economy to expand by 8.4% this year.
But a US economic pickup — especially if talks on infrastructure gather steam — could shift longstanding growth dynamics, at least temporarily. Oxford Economics is predicting that the US contribution to 2021 global growth will be stronger than that from China for the first time since 2005.
“The US economy is going to once again become the global locomotive. And it will help pull the rest of the world out of this Covid crisis,” Gregory Daco, chief US economist at Oxford Economics, said.
This just in: In data released Monday, China reported that retail sales from the first two months of the year fell slightly, while momentum in factory output and investment spending held up better.
“[January to February] economic data suggest that the economy remains resilient, although the peak of the recovery is behind us,” Larry Hu of Macquarie Group said in a note to clients.
Stripe is now the most valuable private US startup
Online payment processor Stripe is officially the most valuable private startup in the United States.
The latest: The company announced over the weekend that it had raised another $600 million in funding. Stripe said it will use the cash to invest in Europe, where it’s already working with top companies including Axel Springer, Jaguar Land Rover, Deliveroo and Klarna.
“The growth opportunity for the European digital economy is immense,” John Collison, president and co-founder of Stripe, said in a statement.
That funding round values Stripe at $95 billion, up sharply from $36 billion in April 2020. That places it ahead of both SpaceX and Instacart, according to data from CB Insights.
For comparison, Uber (UBER) was valued at $76 billon in 2018 before making its Wall Street debut in 2019.
What’s next: The focus is now on whether Stripe, which has benefitted from a rush to online shopping during the pandemic, will make moves to go public. Should it make the call soon, interest would be huge, as investors reward high-growth tech companies seen as promising longer-term bets.
The New York Fed’s Empire State Manufacturing Survey for March posts at 8:30 a.m. ET.
Coming tomorrow: US retail sales and industrial production data.