Many advisors may respect the opinion of Bob Rodriguez. The former fund manager achieved some acclaim by accurately forecasting the Dotcom bust and Financial Crisis. The former CEO of First Pacific Advisors says that a financial crisis is now a “near certainty”. His fear is that excess leverage in the economy, coupled with a recession, will cause a big crisis. He believes “delusional” equity markets are now only starting to recognize this reality.
FINSUM: The preconditions for a crisis are there—a big buildup in corporate debt and pending recession. However, the timing and magnitude are both big question marks.
The Fed is facing a herculean task, argues the Wall Street Journal. That task is to keep inflation at its target, while also steering a moderation in growth. In other words, how does the Fed keep inflation in check without causing a recession? One way to consider this challenge is to think about how the Fed may approach it: “focus more on the domestic economy and keep nudging interest rates higher to combat inflationary concerns, or pay greater attention to stresses abroad and in the markets, and hold rates steady or even nudge them lower”, says the WSJ.
FINSUM: We think this is not as hard as rumored. Our view is that the Fed should freeze rate hikes and broadcast that a long-term freeze is the plan. That should put the economy (and markets) on solid footing, and keep things from getting too out of hand.
One of the most well-known finance professors in the nation, Jeremy Siegel of Wharton, says that the market looks sets for a great stretch. The catch is in order for that great run to happen, we need to avoid a recession. According to Professor Siegel, “My feeling is that the market is virtually positioned for a mild recession, but I just don’t think that it’s going to happen … If we avoid a recession, we’re going to have a really good market”. He continued “I think we swung too positive last summer and now I think we’ve swung too negative”. Siegel believes that if a recession does hit, the market is in for another 5-10% fall.
FINSUM: We would have to agree. This selloff, which has corresponded with great earnings in 2018, is basically a recession already being priced in (maybe not quite), so if the recession never comes, at some point there is going to be an “all clear” rally.
Happy new year—the Dow opened down 350 points this morning on fears over a Chinese slowdown. New data is out of the country which shows that Beijing’s manufacturing sector is contracting, a sign that tariffs may be flowing through to the economy. That makes markets hope more than ever for a trade agreement between the US and Beijing, which would likely alleviate the economic strain. The S&P 500 has fallen 20.2% on an intraday basis, an official bear market.
FINSUM: The implications of a big Chinese slowdown are serious. Firstly, how does the country react politically to what they likely view (or will project) as a US-imposed slowdown? Secondly, how much does the slowdown drag down the global economy?
If you are a fan of behavioral economics and the way investor psychology impacts the market, then there is some interesting new data to look at. The amount of people searching the internet for “recession” and “bear market” has been spiking. People have been increasingly searching for such terms and their level of searches has hit its highest since 2008. Tweeting activity on such topics has also nearly reached a new peak in records going back to 2010.
FINSUM: This may seem like statistical noise, but when you consider that millions of Americans are calling their advisors in a panic, you can start to see how such concern starts flowing through to indexes.