The equity market ’Misery Index’ is down 34% this year

Equities 5 minutes to read

Peter Garnry

Head of Equity Strategy

Summary:  The equity market 'Misery Index' consists of the four worst performing industries this year due to Covid-19 being oil & gas, airlines, hotels, restaurants & leisure, and banks. The index is down by 34% this significantly underperforming the Nasdaq 100 which is up by 30% in the same period. The K-shaped recovery that we are observing in the economy is also observable in the equity market and it has implications for wealth concentration. From a market perspective the misery index is interesting because in our view this index will better discount, and thus filter out noise, actual progress on a vaccine or treatment of Covid-19, or just improving economic activity.


Many have heard of the ‘misery index’ in economics which is basically the unemployment rate + inflation rate where a low number is better than a high number. Findings suggest a lead from an increase in the misery index and subsequent crime rate across many countries. The index has been critised for putting too much weight on inflation (equal weight) as unemployment rate is a stronger factor for happiness. That aside the misery index has its merits and in today’s equity research note we have taken the step to create an equity market ‘misery index’ consisting of some of the hardest hit industries due to Covid-19.

The equity market misery index consists of four industries: oil & gas (30% weight), airlines (20%), hotels, restaurants, and leisure (20%), and banks (30%). We use MSCI World total return indices to measure performance on each industry. The equity misery index is down 34% this year compared to the Nasdaq 100, reflecting the global technology sector, which is up 30%. This staggering divergence in performance within the economy in just nine months is what we call the K-shaped recovery. Read Steen Jakobsen’s latest macro research note called Beware the implications of the K-shaped future, which is good read on what it means in terms of macro. For the equity market the K-shaped recovery means higher equity index concentration driven by technology companies and increasing wealth concentration which will directly lead to regulation in the future.

What the misery index is also telling us is that the situation on the ground in the physical mobility world deteriorated significantly in September as the index declined by 7.6% as a second wave of Covid-19 cases in Europe accelerated putting into question whether new mobility restrictions were coming. The declines have recently been driven by banks and especially European banks to an extent where they have become so cheap that we have covered those European banking stock over two research notes (here and here) over the past two days.

The equity misery index has been added to our basket of indicators that we monitor regularly in the Saxo Strategy Team. Any real progress on vaccines or treatment of Covid-19, or changes in restrictions of mobility will immediately be discounted in the misery index and thus it will work as a good indicator for when the K-shaped recovery is converging to a more synchronized rebound. It is worth noting in the chart below covering a longer period that the K-shaped economy was slowly evolving ahead of the Covid-19 pandemic but was then supercharged by the crisis. Will it ever again converge?

Disclaimer

The Saxo Bank Group entities each provide execution-only service and access to Analysis permitting a person to view and/or use content available on or via the website. This content is not intended to and does not change or expand on the execution-only service. Such access and use are at all times subject to (i) The Terms of Use; (ii) Full Disclaimer; (iii) The Risk Warning; (iv) the Rules of Engagement and (v) Notices applying to Saxo News & Research and/or its content in addition (where relevant) to the terms governing the use of hyperlinks on the website of a member of the Saxo Bank Group by which access to Saxo News & Research is gained. Such content is therefore provided as no more than information. In particular no advice is intended to be provided or to be relied on as provided nor endorsed by any Saxo Bank Group entity; nor is it to be construed as solicitation or an incentive provided to subscribe for or sell or purchase any financial instrument. All trading or investments you make must be pursuant to your own unprompted and informed self-directed decision. As such no Saxo Bank Group entity will have or be liable for any losses that you may sustain as a result of any investment decision made in reliance on information which is available on Saxo News & Research or as a result of the use of the Saxo News & Research. Orders given and trades effected are deemed intended to be given or effected for the account of the customer with the Saxo Bank Group entity operating in the jurisdiction in which the customer resides and/or with whom the customer opened and maintains his/her trading account. Saxo News & Research does not contain (and should not be construed as containing) financial, investment, tax or trading advice or advice of any sort offered, recommended or endorsed by Saxo Bank Group and should not be construed as a record of our trading prices, or as an offer, incentive or solicitation for the subscription, sale or purchase in any financial instrument. To the extent that any content is construed as investment research, you must note and accept that the content was not intended to and has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such, would be considered as a marketing communication under relevant laws.

Please read our disclaimers:
Notification on Non-Independent Investment Research (https://www.home.saxo/legal/niird/notification)
Full disclaimer (https://www.home.saxo/legal/disclaimer/saxo-disclaimer)
Full disclaimer (https://www.home.saxo/legal/saxoselect-disclaimer/disclaimer)

All trading carries risk. Losses can exceed deposits on margin products. You should consider whether you understand how our products work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money. To help you understand the risks involved we have put together a series of Key Information Documents (KIDs) highlighting the risks and rewards related to each product. The KIDs can be accessed here or within the trading platform. Please note that the full prospectus can be obtained free of charge from Saxo Bank (Switzerland) ltd. or the issuer.

This website can be accessed worldwide however the information on the website is related to Saxo Bank (Switzerland) Ltd. All clients will directly engage with Saxo Bank (Switzerland) Ltd. and all client agreements will be entered into with Saxo Bank (Switzerland) Ltd. and thus governed by Swiss Law.

The content of this website represents marketing material and has not been notified or submitted to any supervisory authority.

If you contact Saxo Bank (Switzerland) Ltd. or visit this website, you acknowledge and agree that any data that you transmit to Saxo Bank (Switzerland) Ltd., either through this website, by telephone or by any other means of communication (e.g. e-mail), may be collected or recorded and transferred to other Saxo Bank Group companies or third parties in Switzerland or abroad and may be stored or otherwise processed by them or Saxo Bank (Switzerland) Ltd. You release Saxo Bank (Switzerland) Ltd. from its obligations under Swiss banking and securities dealer secrecies and, to the extent permitted by law, data protection laws as well as other laws and obligations to protect privacy. Saxo Bank (Switzerland) Ltd. has implemented appropriate technical and organizational measures to protect data from unauthorized processing and disclosure and applies appropriate safeguards to guarantee adequate protection of such data.

Apple, iPad and iPhone are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc.