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2020: No Chance of Recession


Barron’s annual roundtable of 10 veteran investors and economists agree that there’s almost no chance of a recession this year.

The roundtable’s view of stocks is decidedly, albeit cautiously, optimistic, Barron’s reported.

The 10 experts “all spoke of high valuations and noted a lack of catalysts to drive stocks higher. That led to some bemoaning that it’s becoming increasingly hard to find good value in today’s market,” Barron’s said.

The Barron’s panelists agreed on the need for increased immigration, and see an almost certain win by Donald Trump. Dissent centered on what the Fed’s next move would be.

The markets will be up in the first half of 2020 and turn down in the last 90 days of 2020, because there will be a lot more uncertainty for 2021,” predicted legendary guru Mario Gabelli.

A major agreement between the Democrats and Republicans on an infrastructure bill could change that outcome. That is a missing ingredient in the U.S. economic outlook for 2021,” he said.

Todd Ahlsten, lead portfolio manager of Parnassus Core Equity fund at Parnassus Investments in San Francisco, sees quite a volatile year.

Multiple expansion will be tough to come by, so with earnings growth in the mid-single digits, a starting framework is a mid-single digit year for stock return,” he said.

William Priest, CEO and co-CIO officer of Epoch Investment Partners in New York, explained that a recession is defined as 2 consecutive Quarters of negative real GDP.

The sum of the growth in the workforce and growth in productivity has to be a minus sign. It’s almost impossible to get that in the US right now. I think US real GDP growth will be around 1.5%, with overall global real GDP growth at 3% or a bit less,” he said.

Meryl Witmer, a general partner at Eagle Capital Partners in New York, see the US consumer in good shape, confidence is running high and has more room to run.

“Consumers will continue to spend, and the Fed looks like it will be very cooperative. We usually say slow growth is nirvana for the market, but with valuations this high, I would not expect a robust year for the market,” Ms. Witmer said.

Everything I look at is trading where it should trade in 1½ or 2 years from now, which means valuations are 15% to 20% too high. We could have a really sideways-to-down market; if something happens to cause fear, it could really topple. Then, maybe we would get some good valuations again. It’s good to have some cash around. Cash levels for retail investors are still kind of high, but down from last year,” Ms. Witmer said.

Henry Ellenbogen, a Barron’s Roundtable panelist and former T. Rowe Price fund manager, sees modest real GDP growth in the 1.5% to 2% range.

I think the markets are going to be weak until we have some certainty, not only on the presidential election, but also on whether the Democrats take the Senate,” he said.

“The 3 swing factors for the year are the Fed, China, and the election. The Fed will remain accommodative. I do not think China has forgotten what has happened in the past and most recently over the last 2 years. And there will be clarity around the election and whether there is a change in fiscal policy and taxes,” said Bruce WD Barren, Chairman The EMCO/Hanover Group

However, a recent survey reveals that the world’s CEO’s view the risk of a recession as their biggest external concern in 2020.

They also feel unsettled by trade uncertainty, political instability, economic slowdown, and more intense competition from disruptive technologies.

However, they plan to counter such forces by developing more innovative cultures and new business models.

Conducted annually since Y 1999 by the Conference Board, this year’s survey gauged nearly 750 CEOs and nearly 800 other C-Suite executives from mainly four regions: Europe, Latin America, Asia, and the United States. As part of the survey, participants weighed in on which external and internal issues warrant the most immediate attention in Y 2020.

Reuters explained that investors enter the new decade with confidence in their hearts, after watching world stocks add over $25-T in value in the past 10 yrs and a bond rally put $13-T worth of bond yields below Zero.

There is some unease though. The current economic cycle is already the longest in US history and a recession looks inevitable in the new decade, which also will mark 100 yrs since the Wall Street crash of 1929.

Making and Keeping America Great!

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