Just when you thought it was safe to be in the market again, the Dow Jones industrial average sank more than 420 points, or just under 2%.
By one measure, Wall Street hasn’t been this scary since the depths of the global financial panic in 2009. So is this the end of the bull market?
Most market watchers say no. In fact, only 18% of money managers surveyed by Bank of America Merrill Lynch believe that stocks have peaked.
Yet the market is historically frothy after a near-record nine-year bull run. And if history teaches us anything, it’s that the key to success in investing is a willingness to go against the grain.
That’s what these five well-known strategists are known for. And their warnings about impending market doom shouldn’t go unheeded.
When to expect the worst: Imminent. “There is surely a doozy just around the bend.”
His reasoning: Stockman expects “an epic monetary and fiscal (policy) collision,” he told CNBC. On the one hand, the recent tax cuts enacted by Congress are likely to help push the federal budget deficit to nearly $1 trillionnext year. At the exact same time, the Federal Reserve is starting to unwind its sizable bond portfolio — which it amassed in the aftermath of the financial crisis to keep bond yields low to juice economy activity.
The result of the Treasury Department and Fed both selling mountains of U.S. bonds in the open market? A monumental jump in market interest rates that will likely spook the historically frothy stock market.
When to expect the worst: 2019. “The markets are potentially on a collision course for disaster.”
His reasoning: Strong fiscal stimulus at the end of this business cycle, at a time when the economy is already at so-called full employment, is likely to force the Federal Reserve to step in and be more aggressive with interest rate hikes to try to keep inflation in check, Minerd fears.
As market rates spike, it will be that much harder for financially weak companies to meet their obligations, especially after the initial impact from the Trump tax cuts subside.
Short-term rates only need to reach 3% to increase corporate defaults, according to Minerd, who expects the Fed to raise rates four times in 2018 and “probably four times next year.” That implies short-term rates will hit 2.5% to 2.75% a year from now and will be 3.25% to 3.5% a year after that.
Over the next year, “equities will probably continue to go up as we have all these stock buybacks and free cash flow,” Minerd told CNBC. But “ultimately, when the chickens come home to roost and we have a recession, we’re going to see a lot of pressure on equities especially as defaults rise, and I think once we reach a peak that we’ll probably see a 40% retracement in equities.”
Minerd likens today’s market to 1987, when stocks suffered a major collapse in October. That year, the market got off to a fast start before investors began to fear the Fed was too slow to address inflationary pressures. “Today, investors have the same sorts of concerns they had in 1987,” he told clients earlier this year.