‘It’s going to take a lot more than a virus to kill New York’ – David Shapiro on his return to South Africa

South Africa’s favourite market commentator David Shapiro joins the BizNews team hours after his return to South Africa after a month-long trip to the US. David shares his experiences of the US, having visited the cities of Boston and New York. On a more investment focused front, David delves into the goldilocks era of the technology, at a time where brick and mortar businesses have simply fallen by the wayside. Other talking points are JSE heavyweights Naspers and Prosus as well as its big brother Tencent and Cashbuild, who announced sublime financials on the local bourse today. – Justin Rowe-Roberts

David Shapiro on the US economy: 

Doing better than I thought. When I was in Boston, we were in the suburbs and the suburbs are rich. When you think of Bostonians in these huge mansions with rolling lawns and lots of greenery around it. So you get a false sense that everything is great. It’s a university city, Boston, and all the kids were returning to college. So there was quite a bit of activity. It was hot and warm. And then you go to New York and New York, the same things happening. Everybody’s coming back. The tourists weren’t there. But what is happening is that Broadway is opening soon. This week, Broadway will be opening. And once that starts to open, you start to get the buzz around Times Square again. Even when we were there, there were plenty of people around. But missing were the tourists, the normal tourists that you would see – the Asians, the Europeans, the South Americans, that hang around those contact points. The south side of Central Park on the carriages and so on. There’s a slight disconnect, if you want a job – there are plenty of jobs in New York. That means if you want to be a waiter or you want to do some of the menial jobs. So anybody just looking for a job – all over you seeing signs of help wanted. I was impressed. As we left, there still was a buzz. It’s going to take a lot more than a bug to actually kill New York.

On whether markets are running ahead of themselves:

If we start to run too far ahead of results but I don’t think we are there. We are expensive – by no means cheap and that applies to the bond market as well. I was looking at the South African bond market today. I love the yields at the top end of the market. Do we buy at this level? It’s great if your money’s been there, but the fresh money, the new money that’s coming in, if it’s a first time buy, it’s very difficult to advise. You’ve got to tell people just to be careful as well. But the other thing that I’ve been surprised with is tech – I’ve been a big tech lover and I haven’t sold my tech, but everybody was telling me that tech was too expensive and I should leave it alone. And yet they continue to do well. They continue to dominate.

On the developments happening in China: 

I’ve toned down my optimism a little bit, just allowing this period to pass. I still think that the Chinese governments are very proud of the size of these businesses, but they just try to knock the leaders into shape and say ‘just don’t get too capitalistic in your attitudes, your spending habits and so on’.

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