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Data: YCharts; Reproduced from Razum Capital; Chart: Axios Visuals

Tesla is now more valuable than the combination of the world’s top seven traditional auto makers, despite only delivering half a million cars this year.

Why it matters: Anyone searching for evidence that the stock market and the real economy are not the same thing, should look no further.

  • Tesla’s frenzied ride in the capital markets culminated on Monday in the company being the largest entrant ever be included in the S&P 500, the main benchmark stock index.

Tesla’s true believers are not paying for actual performance, but they are betting on Elon Musk as a visionary and the potential upside in the still nascent electric vehicle market.

  • The merits of that investment thesis diverge greatly from the current state of affairs in the automotive industry, and the broader economy.

Reality check: The overall equity market’s meteoric rise in the face of a U.S. economy that will end 2020 3% smaller than it started the year, is just the latest example of the economic reality decoupling from stocks.

  • The equity market backdrop is a simple case of buyers needing to “invest in the market you have, and not the one that you want,” says Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist for Prudential Financial.
  • “It is a market that has been engineered by the liquidity of central banks. ... It is surprising how far we've come, and that includes Tesla," Krosby says.

Driving the news: While Tesla mania was once limited just to those who back Musk, after today anyone invested in an S&P index fund is essentially being forced along for the ride.

  • After months of anticipation and active buying, technical pressure pushed the stock down about 6% after its S&P 500 debut.
  • That's happening alongside a broader market decline tied to a new wave of coronavirus concerns in the UK.

What they’re saying: “Tesla shares are in our view and by virtually every conventional metric not only overvalued, but dramatically so,” wrote Ryan Brinkman, a JPMorgan analyst, in a research note.

  • In the past two years, Tesla’s shares have risen more than 800% as analysts have increased average 12-month price targets more than fourfold and simultaneously lowered earnings per share estimates annually through 2024, Brinkman notes.

Yes, but: Tesla makes cars, but they could also be categorized alongside pure tech or electric vehicle companies. It is early in the "golden age of EV playing out globally," says Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities.

  • Ives estimates that EV sales will grow from 3% of overall auto sales to 10% by 2025. "Many of the naysayers are probably the same individuals that thought LeBron wasn't going to be a good basketball player 15 years ago.”

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Jan 19, 2021 - Economy & Business

Biden's inflation danger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President-elect Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus proposal has economists and bullish market analysts revising their U.S. growth expectations higher, predicting a reflation of the economy in 2021 and possibly more booming returns for risk assets.

Yes, but: Others are warning that what's expected to be reflation could actually show up as inflation, a much less welcome phenomenon.

Dave Lawler, author of World
24 mins ago - World

Biden opts for five-year extension of New START nuclear treaty with Russia

Putin at a military parade. Photo: Valya Egorshin/NurPhoto via Getty

President Biden will seek a five-year extension of the New START nuclear arms control pact with Russia before it expires on Feb. 5, senior officials told the Washington Post.

Why it matters: The 2010 treaty is the last remaining constraint on the arsenals of the world's two nuclear superpowers, limiting the number of deployed nuclear warheads and the bombers, missiles and submarines which can deliver them.

Updated 43 mins ago - Technology

Facebook refers Trump ban to independent Oversight Board for review

Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

Facebook's independent Oversight Board has accepted a referral from the platform to review its decision to indefinitely suspend former President Trump.

Why it matters: While Trump critics largely praised the company's decision to remove the then-president's account for potential incitement of violence, many world leaders and free speech advocates pushed back on the decision, arguing it sets a dangerous precedent for free speech moving forward.