First we thought the recovery would be an "I," just a flat line that could hurt us for years to come. Then we thought it was a U as, miraculously, the federal government and the Federal Reserve injected trillions to save the economy and keep individual companies, from the airlines to the cruise lines, from going bankrupt.
Then we believed it to be a V as the vaccines appeared years before they were possible.
Now I think it is possible that we may have to retire the letters entirely. The economy turns out to be a check mark where many businesses are now exceeding 2019's numbers, the numbers before the pandemic.
Every day we hear of new businesses that are besting 2019. Thursday night it was Levi Strauss (LEVI) with a quarter that showed that a new denim cycle has started, aided by the fact that during the pandemic 35% of the people in the country changed waist sizes. That has never been seen before. Suddenly you have millions of people who can't fit into their pants and require new ones, not to mention those who have been wearing casual wear and now have to come back to the office with non-athleisure clothes that must fit them anew.
There are more reasons why we have a check mark than a V. We know, for example, the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) meant not only did businesses stay alive that were dormant but also that the new, available storefronts and the bountiful credit have allowed winners to get bigger. Outfits such as the very liquid, very profitable Authentic Brands have gobbled up Forever 21 and even JC Penney stories, closing holes that had been sucking customers out of the mall. They have picked off Brooks Brothers and Barneys. The mall is actually healthier than when the pandemic began. A total anomaly.
Oh, and speaking of anomalies, the hybrid economy has given rich people a reason to double their footprint -- a second house is easy to come by with this liquidity as is a home equity loan to turn a room into an office. The omnichnannel has created a massive amount of warehouse construction, unheard of, unthought about. The comeback has enabled a huge amount of infrastructure to be built to export oil, gasoline and other byproducts and on and on.
The child credit will assure that the back-to-school season will be the strongest in history. The infrastructure bill will create incredible demand for heavy equipment. The steel tariffs have our factories running full out. Our pathetic grid and our demand for clean energy has put a whole new cohort to work. And, of course, the pandemic has pulled forth years of technology.
All of these changes have created a boom of unprecedented proportions and given us a check mark economy that no one counted on. The only thing that could stop it at this point is a big spike in COVID because of recidivist activity against the best roll-out of a vaccine in history. Can the holdouts cause a shutdown of the economy again? Anything is possible provided enough people are not going to take it as the Delta variant is almost unstoppable without the vaccine.
But otherwise, the check mark is here and it seems that very few expected it or knew what to do with it, but those who did are crushing it like at no other time in their history.