If you think the real estate market is bad now, just wait. That is the argument from James Stack of InvesTech Research. Stack accurately called the last housing crisis and also forecast the slowdown in 2018. Now he is saying that 2019 is going to be the worst year for a long time. “Expect home sales to continue on a downward trend in the next 12-plus months. And there’s a significant downside risk to housing prices if a recession takes hold”, says Stack. He does admit that it is too hard to say if housing is currently in a bubble, but that prices are very likely to fall.
FINSUM: Mortgage rates have risen sharply and prices are quite elevated, so it is no wonder prices have fallen. However, real estate hasn’t seen the exuberance it did pre-Crisis, so we do not think this will be a meltdown by any means.
Investors may have gotten excited on Friday. Accommodative language from the Fed has a way of doing that. However, there is no reason to get to exhilarated, as this rally doesn’t seem to have legs. One of the big worries is about the largest group of shareholders in the country—Baby Boomers. Because this generation is retiring, they are likely to sell into any rally as they don’t have time left to wait for a big recovery. Accordingly, any rally will likely lose momentum quickly. As evidence, redemptions over the last four weeks have totaled $164 bn, or more than 1% of money in all stock and bond funds.
FINSUM: This is an interesting argument and one we tend to take seriously given the size of the Baby Boomer population and their large shareholdings. That said, we do not think it is large enough to affect the fundamentals of the market, just alter the amplitude.
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.
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.
Some investors may be breathing a sigh of relief this week alongside the huge rally. The massive gain of 5% earlier this week was the biggest single day gain since 2009. However, taking a broader view, such major gains have usually mean the market is in deep trouble. To give some context, every comparable rally in stocks since 1900 occurred during the bear market of 2008-2009. Overall, it was the 9th time the market reversed an intraday move of at least 1 percent this quarter. That is the most since the US downgrade in 2011.
FINSUM: In itself, we think the rally means precisely nothing for markets. Investors’ emotions are whipsawing all over the place and the market is yet to find solid footing behind any positive narrative.