The topic of the next recession has faded a bit from the mainstream media discussion over the last month, and understandably so. Not only has the market jumped, but the Fed seems to have completely backed off the rates gas pedal. That said, we are keeping an eye on primary and secondary data on the economy to see what the future may hold. Here is some data that is worrying us a bit: global freight shipping rates are tumbling. China’s weak spending and a global slowing of growth has sent shipping rates way down, a sign of excess supply and demand weakness across the world.
FINSUM: This kind of info, along with metals demand etc, are great leading indicators of what might happen in the economy. Add this to the warning signs.
BAML has put out a report chronicling a new outlook for stocks, and it isn’t pretty. The report shows that investors have the worst views on the markets in a decade. Investors are pessimistic about global growth and corporate profits, the combination of which makes them expect a weak equity market. Here is a summary of Bank of America’s report: “A poll of asset managers showed a net 60 per cent of those questioned think growth in gross domestic product will weaken over the next 12 months, the worst outlook on the global economy since July 2008 and below the trough in January 2001”.
FINSUM: So it is important to note that these are asset manager opinions, not individual investors. Accordingly, it may not be as much of a contrarian indicator as usual.
Those of you who read our opinions on how the trade war with the US is affecting China will know that one of main concerns is about the relationship between the government and the people in China. This week, Xi has echoed that warning. The Chinese leader stressed the need to maintain political stability in the face of economic challenges. The warning, which came at an unusual meeting of Chinese leaders, shows the ruling party’s anxieties over the social implications of the slowing economy.
FINSUM: Chinese leadership is in a tight jam. On the one hand they have the US squeezing them with tariffs, and on the other, they have the need to maintain the economy’s strong growth to keep people happy. Remember that leaders are unelected, so their grip on control is very tied to keeping everyone satisfied.
Goldman Sachs has been sending some seriously mixed messages on stocks. Just a few days ago they published a bearish outlook for 2019. Now the bank’s investment management arm is taking the opposite stance, saying that equities are the place to be. Goldman thinks global growth will continue nicely in 2019, giving support to stocks. It does, however, favor emerging markets over developed equities. The bank still thinks US stocks look attractive after the recent selloff, however.
FINSUM: To be honest it annoys us when one institution puts out some many competing views, but then again, each of the divisions has its own interests. We are not as bullish on stocks as Goldman money management arm.
The market seems to have finally regained its footing after a very turbulent couple of weeks. This selloff felt different than any in recent memory and serious damage to the market’s psyche seems to have been done. But what might it say about the wider economy? The answer is little, according to the Wall Street Journal. The selloff will probably be just that, a market fall. In reality, tech companies, which led the losses, reported very solid earnings, with margins expanding very well. Little can be drawn from the results that might show the economy is in trouble.
FINSUM: The only aspect of this selloff we are somewhat worried about is how it might impact consumer confidence and spending this holiday season. However, so long as the market stays strong this month, we expect the impact to fade.