Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman is having a hard time making out what’s caused the recent market turmoil.
Speaking with CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Gorman said it’s not clear to him what exactly has led to “the emotional state the markets are in.”
“It’s not obvious to me exactly what the connection is — absent oil of course,” he said.
“The US economy, we’ve got 5% unemployment. The economy is growing at 2.5%. That’s a 17 trillion dollar economy. Second largest economy in the world. China is growing — it may not be 6.9, but it’s somewhere in that zip code. These are good things in terms of global economic growth.”
He added that oil has been the “wildcard” in recent months.
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Markets plunged on Wednesday, taking the major stock indexes down by more than 3%, as crude oil collapsed 7%.
Stocks are rallying somewhat on Thursday, but crude oil is still trading near 13-year lows.
The oil story hasn’t totally convinced Gorman, though.
“It’s not a perfect picture,” he said. “And there is some excessive valuations in the market — no question. But is this the cause of the kind of correction we’ve seen?”
Gorman said he follows about 70 stocks closely, ranging from energy to financials to housing to media stocks, and every one of them is down “precipitously” in the last three weeks.
“What happened?” he said. “What was the trigger point here? I’m just not seeing it … You can imagine a correction off the highs. I’m not seeing this kind of violence.”
Watch some of that conversation below: