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Barron's: No Chance of 2020 Recession

Barron's: No Chance of 2020 Recession
(Valiantsin Korznikau/Dreamstime)

By    |   Sunday, 12 January 2020 12:23 PM

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 Federal Reserve’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 returns],” he said.

William Priest, CEO and co-chief investment officer of Epoch Investment Partners in New York, explained that a recession is defined as two 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 U.S. right now. I think U.S. 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 U.S. consumer in good shape.

“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<” 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’d 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,” 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 three swing factors for the year are the Fed, China, and the election. The Fed will remain accommodative. I don’t think China has forgotten what’s happened over the last couple of years. And there will be clarity around the election and whether there is a change in fiscal policy and taxes.”

However, a recent survey reveals that the world’s chief executives 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 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 2020.

External Concerns in 202

Meanwhile, Reuters explained that investors enter the new decade with a spring in their step, after watching world stocks add over $25 trillion in value in the past 10 years and a bond rally put $13 trillion worth of bond yields below zero.

There's unease, along with all the euphoria. The current economic cycle is already the longest in U.S. history and a recession looks inevitable in the new decade -- which also will mark 100 years since the Wall Street crash of 1929.

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Barron’s annual roundtable of 10 veteran investors and economists agree that there’s almost no chance of a recession this year.
barrons, recession, economy, investors
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2020-23-12
Sunday, 12 January 2020 12:23 PM
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