The U.S. stock market is at all-time highs. Companies are pumping out profits like Old Faithful. Large and small businesses are raising capital in amounts never before seen.
And if you ask any corporate lawyer, banker or institutional investor, deal activity – mergers and acquisitions, financings (both debt and equity) is the highest anyone has seen. Ever.
The story isn’t just good for big businesses. Personal bankruptcy filings are at the lowest levels since 1985. Unemployment is down to 4.6% from nearly 7% when Joe Biden was elected president and average hourly wages are the highest for Americans than they have ever been.
And as of Nov. 24, the U.S. had administered over 450 million vaccination doses, with over 10 million just last week, allowing Americans to experience more normalcy after so many months of COVID-driven constraints and fully engage in the economy. And for those of us with children under 12, the roll-out of the 5-11 year old vaccine is a godsend.
So, notwithstanding many naysayers, under President Joe Biden’s administration, the United States economy is not just back on track to tremendous growth, but, thanks to a number of legislative and administrative measures, is on its way to being less trickle down and more bottoms-up. Perhaps the most significant of these so far is the Biden Administration’s infrastructure bill.
After nearly 50 years of “free trade” and “let the market decide” thinking driving much of our national economic policies and decades of partisan and ideological squabbling in Washington and state capitals, we have finally gotten off of our collective behinds to take the steps necessary to rebuild our nation’s crumbling infrastructure.
But not just rebuild it as it was. To take it forward, boldly, so that more and more Americans will have access to the things that many of us take for granted: high speed internet access so children and adults can work and learn remotely; new water pipes so every American can have clean drinking water at the faucet; expanded public transit so Americans can get to school and work more easily.
The impact of these projects will start to be felt soon, assuming the framework makes its way through the senate. But the real impact of these will be felt over many years and decades as Americans will see the fruits of these efforts in their own homes, as they travel on upgraded roads and highways and bridges and see the economic activity that will inevitably sprout up as businesses set up shot in areas previously “off limits” because of those deficiencies.
This bill wasn’t just a Democrat bill; 13 Republicans voted for it as well.
And for those “conservatives” who like to call it a “socialist plan,” perhaps they should refer to their own tried and true touchstones to gauge the bill: Over my more than 30 years as an investment banker, stock market performance has been used by business leaders, Wall Street players and most in the GOP as the barometer of how our nation is doing and where it’s headed.
In the one year since Joe Biden was elected president, the S&P 500, generally considered the broadest measure, is up over 37%. This is the most for any president. And this is with the full knowledge that he intended to push for these large, transformative bills.
Equally compelling is the data from this week: since the passage of the bill, each major index – the Dow Jones Industrial Average, the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ index all closed at all time highs.
Is this the “perfect bill”? Of course not. As President Biden said at his very humble news conference, throughout his career as a senator and the vice president, he has had to make compromises to advance core legislation. But it is a good bill and addresses issues politicians have for decades promised to address and failed, including the past administration.
Perhaps it is time to give Joe his due. He is indeed a capitalist. But he’s a compassionate one who believes in the power of the government to help fill the gaps and propel forward those who’ve been left behind.
William Derrough has spent the last 30 years helping restructure hundreds of large enterprises at several leading investment banks. He served as treasurer of the Democratic National Committee from February 2017 to January 2021.