The guru who famously predicted the current bull almost to the day is standing firm that it isn’t over yet, and he’s got plenty of numbers to back him up, writes MoneyShow.com editor-at-large Howard R. Gold.
These are anxious, confusing times for investors. Though markets have stabilized a bit this week, people are pretty nervous, to say the least.
A shaky economy, Congress’s debt ceiling fiasco, Standard & Poor’s downgrading of the US, and a deepening debt crisis in the Eurozone are enough to worry anyone.
In fact, with the S&P 500 having fallen as much as 17.9% from its recent April 29 peak (as of Wednesday’s close, it was up 6.5% from its lows), we may be on the cusp of a new bear market, as four leading technical analysts told me last week.
So, I was a bit surprised when I moderated a panel at the MoneyShow San Francisco last Thursday, and four of the five panelists were bullish. Of course, I can’t recall a time over the last decade when most advisors weren’t bullish, no matter what the market was doing.
But one of them got my attention: James Stack, president of Stack Financial Management and editor of InvesTech Research.
Since predicting the 1987 crash, Jim has had a good track record of getting investors in and out of the markets in a way that limits their risks. (His newsletter has trounced the Wilshire 5000 over the last five and ten years while taking less risk, according to the Hulbert Financial Digest.)
Stack is conservative, while some financial advisors are still telling retirees to keep two-thirds of their money in stock. He also has tons of data and computing power accessible from his company’s headquarters in idyllic Whitefish, Montana.
And, as I’ll explain later, I’ve learned the hard way not to dismiss his views on where the market is going.
Anyway, he’s crunched the numbers, and he’s not ready to declare the bull market over yet. His favorite technical indicators aren’t waving any red flags, and he doesn’t think the economy is heading into a recession, double dip or otherwise.
He understands why people are wary. “Confidence has been and currently is still in a funk,” he told the audience. “What business would go out and expand and hire in anticipation of new growth and new opportunities, when all they see is they’d better prepare for battening down the hatches for that double-dip recession?”
Yet he thinks those worries are overblown. (You can watch my short interview with Stack, where he explains some of his reasoning from the longer speech, here.)
True, the Index of Supply Management’s manufacturing index is hovering just above 50; below that, it would be contracting. But the ISM’s service index has actually trended upward of late, and as you know, we’re predominantly a service economy. Also, jobless claims have moderated recently .
The indicators Stack looks at most, the Conference Board's Leading Economic Indicators (LEI), actually have been hitting new highs. “If we’re going back into recession, then why hasn’t this LEI fallen six to 12 months prior to this recession, as it has in every instance in the past 50 years?,” he asked.
(Lakshman Achuthan, co-founder of the competing Economic Cycle Research Institute, told The Wall Street Journal in June that we’re “not yet” heading into a double-dip recession, “but a sharp and prolonged downturn is underway.”)
“I think the odds are still at least 70% to 80% that we are not going back into a double-dip recession,” Stack told me.
NEXT: Stack’s Technical Indicators Are Still Bullish