Surprise, after all of the ‘bunk’ you have heard since early October, do not be shocked that there will be no additional Fed rate hikes, a 20% S&P 500 rally and no recession..
Byron Wein defines “surprise” as an event that the average investor would only assign a 33% chance of taking place but which he believes is “probable,” having a better than 50% likelihood of happening.
Byron Wien is a senior advisor to Blackstone and its clients in analyzing economic, political, market and social trends.
His 10 probabilities for Y 2019 are the following:
- The weakening world economy encourages the Fed to stop raising the federal funds rate during the year. Inflation remains subdued and the 10-yr Treasury yield stays below 3.5%. The yield curve remains positive.
- Partly because of no further rate increases by the Fed, and more attractive valuations as a result of the market decline at the end of 2018, the S&P 500 gains 15%+ for the year. Rallies and corrections occur but improved earnings enable equities to move higher in a reasonably benign interest rate environment.
- Traditional drivers of GDP growth, capital spending and housing, make only modest gains in Y 2019. The expansion continues because of consumer and government spending. A recession before Y 2021 seems unlikely.
- The better tone in the financial markets discourages precious metal investors. Gold falls to $1,000 as the equity markets in the United States and elsewhere improve.
- The profit outlook for emerging markets brightens and investor interest intensifies because the price earnings ratio is attractive compared to developed markets and historical levels. Continuous expansion of the middle class in the emerging markets provides the consumer buying thrust for earnings growth. China leads and the Shanghai composite rises 25%. The Brazil equity market also comes to life under the country’s new conservative leadership.
- 29 March comes and goes and there is no BREXIT deal. Parliament fails to approve 1 and Theresa May, arguing that a change in leadership will not help, remains in office. A 2nd referendum is held and the UK votes to remain.
- The USD stabilizes at year-end 2018 marks and stays there throughout the year. Because of concern about the economy, the Fed stops shrinking its balance sheet, which is interpreted negatively by currency traders. The flow of foreign capital into United States assets slows because of a softer monetary policy and a lack of need for new capital for business expansion.
- The Mueller investigation results in indictments against members of The Trump Organization closest to the President, but the evidence does not support any direct action against President Trump himself.
- Congress with a Democratic majority, gets more done than expected, particularly on trade policy. Progress is made in preserving important parts of the Affordable Care Act and immigration policy. A federal infrastructure program to be implemented in Y 2020 is announced.
- Growth stocks continue to provide leadership in the US equity market. Technology and biotech do well as a result of continued strong earnings. Value stocks other than energy-related businesses disappoint because of the slowing economy.
Every year there are always a few surprises that do not make the 10 because Mr. Wein does not think they are as relevant as those on the basic list or he is not comfortable with the idea that they are ‘probable.
He offered 4 other possible probables, they are as follows:
- Geopolitical tensions increase. Iran continues to destabilize the Middle East and Kim Jong Un fails to live up to his NKorea denuclearization promises. Secretary of State Pompeo and National Security Advisor Bolton make statements indicating the United States may take pre-emptive action in both places, thereby causing one of several sharp market sell-offs. But in spite of hostile rhetoric, the United States does not go to war with anyone as we approach the Y 2020 election. President Trump’s tough talk on some issues like trade works, and leads to successful diplomatic negotiations on national security.
- In desperation China engages in ambitious infrastructure programs to bolster its economy. China grows at 6.5% real, but the increased debt causes concern around the world and has a negative impact on the RMB Yuan
- China announces, “We want to be the world leaders in free trade.”It sends envoys around the globe to negotiate better bilateral trade terms in order to offset the losses from the ongoing US disagreements. JV’s in which foreign companies control the majority share are initiated in all sectors, from industrials and autos to raw materials. As China’s influence around the world becomes greater, the US further isolates itself.
- The ECB is forced to restart QE in response to a defiant Italy, a weakening Germany and BREXIT. Thwarting expectations that BREXIT would bring the rest of Europe closer together, Italy realizes that it can break all fiscal rules without any fear of punishment from the EU. As a result, the Italian economy falls into recession, debt spreads surge and the ECB is forced to liquefy the system again.
We will see…
Have a terrific weekend.
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