The trouble with being an unbiased, independent, market realist is that you tend to sound alarm bells about impending risks before most others seem to notice. Over the past couple of years I have been accused of being “a bear” for voicing concerns about asset bubbles, excessive leverage, reckless spending and risky investment markets at the end of this super-long (credit-juiced) economic expansion. Its ok, I can take being called a bear when risks warrant extra caution. As I see it, becoming appropriately bearish during part of each cycle is necessary in order to provide valuable risk management.
This past week it seems that market psychology has started into the next leg down of angst and belated worry. New “bears” have been crawling out of their caves all around the world of late. Yesterday a big bearish growl sounded from the research team at Royal Bank of Scotland: RBS issues global stock and credit crash alert
“The Royal Bank of Scotland has advised clients to brace for a full-fledged crash in global stock and credit markets over the next three months as inflation paralyses the major central banks.
“A very nasty period is soon to be upon us – be prepared,” said Bob Janjuah, the bank's credit strategist.
A report by the bank's research team warns that the S&P 500 index of Wall Street equities is likely to fall by more than 300 points to around 1050 by September as “all the chickens come home to roost” from the excesses of the global boom, with contagion spreading across Europe and emerging markets.
RBS warning: Be prepared for a 'nasty' period. Such a slide on world bourses would amount to one of the worst bear markets over the last century.”
“Cash is the key safe haven. This is about not losing your money, and not losing your job,” said Mr Janjuah, who became a City star after his grim warnings last year about the credit crisis proved all too accurate.”
Not to be outdone, a team of Morgan Stanley analysts also reiterated their own dire warning this week citing a “catastrophic” risk from mounting inflation and global monetary strains:
“The point of maximum stress could occur in coming months if the ECB carries out the threat this month by Jean-Claude Trichet to raise rates. It will be worse yet – for Europe – if the Fed backs away from expected tightening. “This could trigger another 'catastrophic' event,” warned Morgan Stanley. See Morgan Stanley warns of catastrophic event.
Wow! And I've been called bearish for simply pointing out that a 6 year economic expansion is historically tenuous and coupled with a credit crunch makes us long overdue for a “regular” market correction in the 25-45% range.
I will have to be bearish a while longer yet it seems. But I do believe this storm will eventually subside again and we will get back to buying risky assets in the future. However that is not to say that investors should blindly hold and stay the course in the face of present risks. Knowing when to take cover has always been key to long-term survival and prosperity.
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