“Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)”, a Mickey Newbury song performed by Kenny Rogers
With the passage of time following 2007-09’s global economic disaster, memories regarding the accompanying bloody bear trend in America’s stock marketplace benchmarks such as the S+P 500 gradually yet significantly faded. As the S+P 500 ascended, and especially as it advanced to and sustained record highs, widespread sermons declared that we should “buy the dip”. This aligned with the venerable proverb regarding the reasonableness of buying and holding United States stocks for the “long run”. What constitutes a “dip” or the “long run” is debatable, a matter of subjective perspective (opinion). How substantial a drop from some key elevation justifies buying? Is it one percent, five percent, ten percent, or twenty percent or greater? Is the long run one year, five years, or ten or more?
Of course since the S+P 500’s major bottom on 3/6/09 at 667, a few bloody stock price slides in that signpost (and “related” global equity yardsticks) terrified stock “investors” and their allies, including central banks such as the Federal Reserve, American politicians, and the financial media. Yet as the S+P 500 achieved a record height quite recently with 1/22/20’s 3338 (2/5/20’s level matched this), such advice definitely looked excellent to many stock owners and observers! Besides, as they have numerous times over the past eleven years, won’t beloved central bank physicians such as the Federal Reserve Board (under the guise of fulfilling their mandate), European Central Bank, the Bank of England, China’s central bank, and the Bank of Japan rescue stocks and generate rallies in them? Not only soothing rhetoric, but also yield repression and quantitative easing (money printing) remain antidotes for stock price drops, right? And politicians might assist via new tax cuts, boosts in infrastructure spending, or similar schemes. Thus the majority of US stock marketplace players have focused more on the rewards of owning than the dangers of doing so. Substantial complacency reigns regarding the potential for noteworthy American and other stock marketplace price declines.
The recent emergence within China of a deadly coronavirus and its spread elsewhere around the globe helped to push US and other equities downhill. Whether this medical problem will injure the S+P 500 and other global stocks significantly (and for a sustained period of time) remains uncertain. Government actions to prevent the spread of the virus will tend to hamper economic growth. Fearful consumers and nervous corporations may slow their spending. The wider the reach and the longer the persistence of the ailment, the greater the economic damage. And economic (financial) weapons such as money printing and yield repression available to the Fed and its friends obviously do not halt epidemics or cure diseases (or fears of them).Though the S+P 500 descended to 3215 on 1/31/20, the index recovered, touching 3338 again on 2/5/20.
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Critical Conditions and Economic Turning Points (2-5-20)