15 Numbers That Sum Up U.S. Markets In 2020

By: Spencer Israel

It’s almost impossible to sum up all that happened in the world and in markets during 2020.

Rather than attempt that, below are 15 numbers from around the U.S. capital markets that show just how crazy a year it was for traders and investors.

1) 32
The number of new all-time highs the S&P 500 made in 2020 despite a global pandemic. That’s just below 2019’s number of 33 new all-time highs and in-line with the five-year average for the index.

2) 70%
That was the approximate total return of the S&P 500 from March 23—the day the stock market bottomed and the day the Federal Reserve announced new fiscal stimulus—until the end of the year.

3) 222%
The approximate gain of the ARK Genomic Revolution ETF (ARKG)—the top performing ETF of 2020—over that same span.

4) 2
The number of stocks in the S&P 500 that returned more than 300% last year. Those were Tesla (up 743%) and Etsy (up 302%).

5) 160%
Bitcoin’s return in 2020.

6) 8%
That’s how much higher Americans’ post-tax income was between March-November in 2020 than in 2019. In other words, Americans actually took home 8% more money in the aggregate last year than the year prior despite the decimation of retail, hospitality, and other industries.

Obviously, stimulus checks and extended unemployment benefits helped juice this number to an extent. This could be one explanation for the stock market’s stunning rally in the face of COVID.

7) -13.7%
The estimated year-over-year earnings decline for all the companies in the S&P 500 according to Factset, marking the biggest drop since the financial crisis. Of the 11 S&P sectors, only health care, technology, consumer staples, and utilities experienced earnings growth last year.

8) 22.33
The forward price-to-earnings ratio of the S&P 500, the highest it’s been since the peak of the dot-com bubble.

9) 28.6%
The size of the 10 largest companies in the S&P 500 as a percentage of the entire index, according to JP Morgan. That represents a larger concentration of the index’s top 10 components than the dotcom bubble.

As of December 31, 2020, this group consisted of Apple (6.8%), Microsoft (5.3%), Amazon, (4.5%), Facebook (2.1%), Tesla (1.7%), Alphabet Class A (1.7%), Alphabet Class C (1.6%), Berkshire Hathaway (1.4%), Johnson & Johnson (1.3%), JP Morgan (1.2%), and Visa (1.2%).

10) $3.245 Trillion
The size of the Fed’s balance sheet. That represents a 93% increase from the end of the last monetary stimulus cycle in 2014.

11) $493 billion
The number of inflows into the global ETF market last year, a new record. The previous high was $468 billion in 2019.

12) $20 billion
The number of inflows into ARK Invest ETFs. ARK’s family of seven ETFs took in more money than any other issuer outside of Vanguard, Blackrock, and State Street.

13) 248
The number of Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) IPOs in 2020, according to SPACinsider. Combined, the group raised over $83 billion.

Only 11 of those blank check companies actually completed a deal last year, however. The rest are either raising money from investors, still searching for an acquisition target, or announced a target but have yet to complete the deal.

14) 218
The number of IPOs last year according to Renaissance Capital, raising just over $78 billion. This marks the first time that SPAC activity outpaced IPO activity.

15) 85.47
The VIX’s high watermark in 2020, hit way back on March 18. It was an all-time high for the Cboe Volatility Index, which finished the year only slightly above its pre-COVID levels at 21.

The author is long the S&P 500 in his retirement accounts.

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