Home prices could fall by another 25%, says Meredith Whitney, but stock market shrugs

09/11/2009 12:10 pm EST

Focus: STOCKS

Jim Jubak

Founder and Editor, JubakPicks.com

The stock market doesn’t hear what it doesn’t want to hear.

On September 10, influential financial sector analyst Meredith Whitney of Meredith Whitney Advisory Group told CNBC that U.S. home prices could fall by yet another 25%.

The stock market barely blinked before continuing its rally. The Standard Poor’s 500 stock index finished the day up almost 11 points to 1044.  The index hasn’t closed at that level since October 2008.

There’s nothing flakey about Whitney’s logic. “No bank underwrote a loan with 10% unemployment on the horizon,” she told CNBC.

With unemployment not about to reverse course soon, and with banks getting stricter about lending, consumers aren’t about to start spending. That will keep the economy in recession or in a period of growth so slow that it feels like a recession.

And that won’t be good for housing prices.

It won’t be good for stocks either, especially for financial stocks. Whitney, who in August projected that 300 banks would fail in 2009 (at the time the count was 78), predicted another down leg for the stock market and for financials.

Whitney isn’t a perma-bear on stocks or the financial sector so I think it’s worth taking her opinions seriously. Her call that financials were undervalued and could climb 15% or so was one catalyst for this summer’s rally in the sector. (The only financial she still recommends is Goldman Sachs (GS) by the way.)

Right now negative calls like hers are falling on deaf ears on Wall Street. Nobody wants to exit this rally while there’s a chance it might keep running for even a few days or weeks.

But someday investors will start to listen to negative news and opinion again. Think of today’s pessimistic calls as fuel for the next correction or leg down that is now building up on the sidelines.

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