It is not pleasant to think about, but investors may need to face reality—the bear market may have arrived this winter. Stocks are already well into a correction and the immediate path forward doesn’t seem bright. All that said, not all the indicators are showing a bear market to come. Bank of America has assembled 19 indicators which have forecasted bear markets in the past. Right now, only 13 of the 19 indicators have been tripped, meaning the market may have room to move higher. While 13 out of 19 may sound high, this level was usually reached two years before the peak in prices in previous bear markets.
FINSUM: If you buy into these types of indicators, the big x-factor is how quickly the other 6 could be tripped. The big problem, of course, is that the returns at the end of a bull market tend to be the strongest, so one does not want to take all their chips off the table.
If you are thinking about putting some money into foreign stocks, you might want to wait. Overseas stocks need to go through a bear market before they are worth buying again, and they may be well on their way. The MSCI EAFE is seriously underperforming the US market, but don’t be fooled, it has historically done so when when it is ready to continue to underperform, not the other way around.
FINSUM: The big question is why foreign stocks are underperforming The perceived wisdom is that investors want to chase fast moving growth stocks, which are predominantly in the US.
Advisors large and small need to worry about this next bear market, as the latter may not survive, according to Barron’s. The reality is that there are many small RIAs who have kept their business alive because of the long bull market. However, “The smaller you are, the more vulnerable you are, because if the market goes down 15%, it gets harder and harder to run a business”, says Fidelity’s clearing division. Margins are already quite slim for small RIAs and lower AUM from market losses would likely kill many businesses. “When the stock market drops, revenues drop, and no expenses immediately come out of the system”.
FINSUM: The big question is whether RIAs who feel vulnerable should perhaps try to sell to larger players now instead of risking a bear market.
All the biggest names in bonds—Gross, Gundlach, Dalio—have been warning that a major bond bear market is on the way. However, Bloomberg is arguing that bears may have to wait as the tide in the bond market is reversing. Treasury yields’ rise has stalled, and in certain parts of the world (e.g. Germany), yields are once again falling. The big reason why is global fears over a possible trade war which could sink the economy broadly. This would weaken inflation and hamper hikes by central banks, pinning rates.
FINSUM: We have repeatedly said that we do not think there will be a bond bear market. There is a lot of natural demand for bonds given the aging population, which should keep yields at bay even if other forces are causing them to rise.
In a refreshing article given the relative doom and gloom over the last month, Barron’s has published a piece arguing that it is the bears, not the bulls, that need to be afraid of the equity market right now. The view is based on technical analysis. Many might be interested to learn that rather than the technical indicators showing a bull market at or near its peak, signs are suggesting a move upward may be in store. The piece is also quick to point out that despite the shallow correction a month ago, the bull trend for the market has continued unabated.
FINSUM: We don’t put a great deal of stock in technical analysis and only view it as useful as a companion to fundamental analysis. Nonetheless, it is good to stay abreast of this information.