Tuesday, September 08, 2009
E.S. Browning's piece($) that sits atop Page 1 of the Money and Investing section of the Wall Street Journal details the possibilities for equity markets this fall, offering the handy scorecard shown below along with some thoughts for both bulls and bears, however, for some reason, the bears have to turn the page to hear their case.
And, in this particular situation, that may be a bit more difficult than usual since those with a dour outlook for stocks, now entering the most dangerous months of the year for equity markets, have to get past the outlook offered up by Ms. Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab who cites a new worry for the bulls.
Liz Ann Sonders, chief investment strategist at Charles Schwab, thinks even optimists could be underestimating the market's potential. "I worry that what looks more and more like a V-shaped recovery is even stronger than my optimistic expectations," she told clients.Well, of all the worries facing investors today amid the turmoil in financial markets, we've now got that one to add to the list...
But, seriously, anyone reading this story just knew that views opposing what appeared on page one will eventually turn up, and they do:
How could anyone argue with that? The pessimists have reasons. At the risk of disagreeing with Milton Friedman, many, including the Fed, warn that future economic growth could be soft, especially once government stimulus wanes. Some even fear that after growing again later this year, the economy could drop back into recession in 2010.Yes, it all comes down to the consumer, a no-show so far in the current recovery, whatever letter is used to describe its shape - "V", "W", "L", "U", or, my favorite "Z".
Smaller businesses are having trouble getting loans and regional banks are struggling, says University of Maryland economist Peter Morici. "Cash flow, credit and collapse could be the bywords of 2010 as smaller businesses and banks continue to fail and the recession takes a second dip," he says.
One huge concern is continued weakness in consumer spending. Although consumer debt has begun declining as a percentage of disposable income, it remains far above past levels. At the end of this year's first quarter, consumer debt stood just under 124% of disposable income, Federal Reserve data indicate. That was down somewhat from 131.5% at the end of 2007, but far above the 90% level of early 1999, or the 61% level of 1984.