The bearish stream of warnings from Morgan Stanley continues unabated. The bank’s wealth management CIO has just made another big call for the firm, saying a correction is likely. Lisa Shallett of MS Wealth management says that the Fed is trying to fight the end of the cycle, and it will likely prove too hard to do. She believes that a recession and correction are highly likely in the next year and that stocks will drop by at least 10%. That said, she advises investors to buy further intro underperforming sectors.
FINSUM: Morgan Stanley says explicitly that they think the bond market’s call on the economy is more correct than stocks and that an economic hard landing is likely coming.
Investors need to take note, as one of the biggest equity research divisions on Wall Street has just turned overwhelmingly negative on equities. And this is not the “stocks will struggle in coming years” kind of call, it is an argument for right now and published yesterday. The bank has lowered its allocation to stocks, saying that the outlook for markets over the next three months is very poor. Morgan Stanley says equities prices are way too high and expectations for major rate cuts are already priced in, leaving little room for appreciation. They also think valuations are too high given deteriorating manufacturing and economic data.
FINSUM: Morgan Stanley is basically saying that the market is primed for disappointment because all the positive outcomes have already been priced in. Not unrealistic.
The yield curve inversion has largely faded from headlines. Things that become the status quo often do! But in that development lays a hidden but worrying truth—the longer the yield curve is inverted, the more likely it is that there will be a recession. The inversion has been in place for over a month now and it is actually getting worse, with long-term yields continuing to drop. A yield curve inversion has proceeded every US recession in the last 50 years.
FINSUM: If the Fed proceeds with cuts, it seems like the inversion may abate. But then again, the rate cut would be an implicit admission that we are on the way to a recession.
Here is a data signal most of the market is not paying attention to when it comes to recession forecasting: nationwide capital expenditure, or Capex. Morgan Stanley’s index of capex has shrunk to its lowest level in two years, as the high from the Trump tax cuts wears off for companies and they tighten purse strings. Capex growth is likely to weaken from 11% last year to just 3% this year. According to the deputy CIO of State Street, “Low capex growth is very worrying … You’re starting to see the trade tensions and the macro growth concerns play out in business confidence — companies won’t open a new factory if they think we’re on the cusp of a recession”.
FINSUM: This is a worrying sign but not wholly unexpected given the waning benefits of the tax cuts. However, even though this is expected, it does not mean it won’t hurt the economy.
Don’t let the cooling of the trade war between the US and China fool you, the markets are not in a good position, at least that is the position of Bank of America. The bank thinks there won’t be a deal between Washington and Beijing until the US market feels real pain. They think the looming Q3 correction will be the stimulus that gets a deal done because Trump operates under a “no pain, no deal” paradigm. “The markets are likely to view the summit as a modest positive in the short run. But stepping back, we see several reasons for concern”, says Bank of America.
FINSUM: The “no pain, no deal” concept makes a lot of sense to us. The bigger question, though, is what would cause the pain because markets certainly aren’t hurting from the threat of a trade war. Maybe a big earnings miss? (See below)