Nobody likes to admit that they were wrong, especially when the mistake is directly tied to one’s job description.
With the stock markets surging to all-time highs, Wall Street’s most famous bears have found themselves struggling to explain to their clients why they were told to stay out of stocks.
While each bear’s explanation is different, one thing is consistent: no one admits error.
Albert Edwards: Stocks rallied like this before the last crash
The bearish strategist at Societe Generale has been telling his clients to keep as low an exposure to stocks as possible. Fortunately for his clients, SocGen won’t allow him to recommend anything less than 50 per cent exposure to stocks.
In a note published yesterday, Edwards reiterated his uber-bearishness towards stocks, arguing that this is looking more and more like 2007 before the markets crashed.
“As the Dow surges to all time highs it feels eerily similar to the prior mid-2007 peak,” he wrote. “Exactly the same jitters abound of a bond bear market and true to form Ben Bernanke is making the same complacent comments.”
Unfortunately, Edwards clients have been missing out on the money-making opportunity offered by the bubble.
Bob Janjuah: I told you stocks would rise
Nomura’s Janjuah scared his followers out of the stock market with his repeated warnings that the S&P 500 would crash to 800.
He even suggested that the Dow and gold could converge at 7,000.
In recent months, he has been patting himself on the back for suggesting that stocks would climb before tumbling down.
We only wonder how many of his clients were willing to risk being long for modest gains ahead of a crash.
Marc Faber: This just means the crash will be worse
The author of the “Gloom Boom & Doom Report” has been sounding a lot like Janjuah.
While he has not explicitly forecasted that stocks would go up, he has warned that the more stocks rise, the uglier the crash will be.
And rather than admitting error or expressing frustration, he has become increasingly excited about the prospect of a crash.
“For the first time in four years,” Faber told CNBC, “since the lows in March 2009, I love this market. Because the higher it goes the more likely we will have a nice crash, a big time crash.”
Meanwhile, most of the people shorting the market on Faber’s words have probably been squeezed out of the market.
Richard Russell: The Dow Theory is lying to us
Many Dow theorists have been turning bullish lately. Recently, the Dow industrials hit an all-time high, confirming an all-time high in the Dow Transports. This is widely considered a buy signal by Dow Theorists.
However, Richard Russell is warning everyone that this is a false positive.
“[B]oth D-J Averages produced something never seen before, namely new highs during a post-crash upward correction,” said Russell in a new note. “My explanation of this unprecedented situation is that the advance to new highs was a direct result of never-before-seen manipulation by the Federal Reserve.”
So, the leading Dow Theorist is telling people not to trust the Dow Theory.
Lakshman Achuthan: Stocks rise sometimes
The head of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) has been the face of experts that have been wrong during this rally.
While he is not in the business of making stock market calls, he does address the rally in the context of his repeated recession calls.
In a new note, Achuthan discusses the current stock market rally.
“It is true that 80% of the past 15 recessions had associated equity bear markets, but in three of those 15 recessions there were no cyclical downturns in stock prices,” he wrote. “Specifically, this happened in 1980, 1945 and 1926-27. The chart on the left shows that, after the 1980 recession began, the S&P fell 17% in 30 trading days, but then took off until the next recession came into sight. This was no bear market.”
“Sometimes people forget that the stock market is not the economy,” he wrote. And we couldn’t agree with him more.
But if you say that 80 per cent of the last 15 recessions are associated with bear markets, and you also say that we’re in a recession, then you’re clients are probably missing out on this rally.
Nouriel Roubini: I like stocks in the super short-term and the super long-term
NYU’s “Dr. Doom” has been very clear about his bearishness on the economy.
However, his position on stocks has been consistently ambiguous.
In an interview two weeks ago, Roubini told Yahoo’s Aaron Task that he was “short-term bullish, long-term catastrophic.” His rationale was that the Fed’s efforts would continue to inflate asset prices until everything tumbled.
But it’s probably unsafe to by stocks based on that alone.
In an interview just this morning, Roubini warned CNBC’s audience that the stock market would correct in the second half of the year.
It’s worth noting that Roubini has said in the past that 100 per cent of his retirement portfolio is allocated in stocks.
As long as an expert’s reputation is on the line, you probably shouldn’t expect them to admit error.
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