It’s been said, allegedly by a great Yankee catcher, that “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” We’ve no clue whether #8 said it or not, but whoever did was on to something, at least with regard to stocks and bonds. Fact is, it’s impossible to divine which direction the financial markets will move over anything close to the long term. Yet folks are paid lots of money to pretend they can.
“This is going to be the final bubble…and without a doubt it will be the worst stock market crash you will see in your lifetime and it is going to happen by roughly end of 2017.”
Legendary economist Harry Dent, April 2016
Here’s what we say: Who pays these guys? Truth be known, the track record of the high-profile pundit class is awful. Beyond awful. In fact, it’s downright embarrassing. These guys don’t just miss by degree, they miss by direction. Which raises two questions: Why are they so lousy? And, more importantly, why do we keep buying the snake oil they’re peddling?
“It really does now look like President Donald J. Trump, and markets are plunging. When might we expect them to recover…a first-pass answer is never.”
Legendary advisor Paul Krugman, November 2016
To the first question, the answer’s easy: It’s absurd to think you can predict the mood investors will be in next week, much less 12 months from now. And mood is everything. No matter what gets measured today, the calculation can be ignored in a year, or a month, even an hour, from now.
“Some stocks in America are turning into a bubble, the bubble is going to come, and then it’s going to collapse. You should be very worried.”
Legendary investor Jim Rogers, May 2017
To the more interesting question – why does anyone care what these gurus think anyhow? – the answer, too, is straightforward. It’s because we all want to think the markets are precise and foreseeable. Indeed, there’s a natural desire among us to believe there are gifted seers out there who can read the data, crunch the numbers, and tell us exactly where the S&P 500 will be on Dec. 31.
“I think a realistic scenario is that asset holders will lose 50% of their assets. Some people will lose everything.”
Legendary forecaster Marc Faber, June 2017
Market prognosticators, in other words, have an almost permanent audience. Which is why those of the charlatan sort are willing to make bold and sometimes ridiculous prognostications – they’ve got nothing to lose, and, who knows, maybe they’ll get lucky and be right. In the end, though, the only thing that’s truly knowable is that no one knows when.
What the equity markets have been doing…
|INDEX||Friday’s Close||Two-Week Point Change||Year-to-Date Change|
What the fixed income markets have been doing…
|FIXED INCOME||Period Change||YTD||12 Months||Yield|
|U.S. Investment Grade||-(0.1)%||6.5%||7.9%||3.2%|
|U.S. High Yield||NC||7.3%||7.9%||5.7%|
What the pundits have been saying…
“The prospect of fiscal stimulus thus reinforces our forecast that the funds rate will rise well beyond current market pricing, with four hikes in 2018 and a terminal rate of 3¼%-3½%.”
- Goldman Sachs
What the numbers are saying…
The potential value of Philip Neumeier’s 15 bitcoins he bought for $260 in 2013. The only problem: He can’t remember his password. Mr. Neumeier is one of many who bought into the cryptocurrency years ago and can’t remember the complex security codes needed to get to their bitcoins.
What people have been saying…
“We’re Going to Beat Elon Musk to Mars.”
- Dennis Muilenburg, CEO, Boeing
- Elon Musk, CEO, SpaceX
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