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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Hussman's timing may be wrong again!

The financial markets are establishing an extreme that we expect investors will remember for the remainder of history, joining other memorable peers that include 1906, 1929, 1937, 1966, 1972, 2000 and 2007.
He follows up with another gem:
Enlightened members of the FOMC should even question the theoretical basis for their actions. The Phillips Curve is actually a scarcity relationship between unemployment and real wage inflation – basically, labor scarcity raises wages relative to the price of other goods (see Will The Real Phillips Curve Please Stand Up and the instructive chart from former Fed governor Richard Fisher in Eating our Seed Corn). That’s the only variant of the Phillips Curve that actually holds up in the data, and there is no evidence that this or other variants can be reliably manipulated through monetary changes.

Only long-term sustainable, predictable employment creates a turnaround. Till this I agree with him. Now comes the crucial issue of timing. Here he says:

They want to believe that the Federal Reserve has their backs; that as long as the Fed doesn’t explicitly hike interest rates, the market will move higher indefinitely. We saw one question last week that asked “What if the Fed doesn’t raise rates for another 20 years?” Let’s start with an aggressive, optimistic estimate. If we assume that despite conditions warranting two decades of zero interest rates, nominal GDP and corporate revenues will grow at their long-term historical norm of 6% annually over the coming 20 years, we would expect the total return of the S&P 500 to average about 5.5% annually over the next two decades (see Ockham’s Razor and the Market Cycle for the arithmetic behind these estimates). Even in this optimistic scenario, to imagine that this path would be smooth would have no basis in history, requiring the absence of any external shock for the entire period (and I’ve already demonstrated, I hope, that many of the worst market declines in history have been accompanied by Federal Reserve easing).

If Fed hikes, it will interfere with the risk equation causing "a breakdown in market internals" as Hussman calls it causing precipitation. But it is unlikely that Fed will hike. Fed may experiment with a token hike but may quickly reverse. Or, more likely, Fed will signal a prolonged pause (lasting more than a year or two). 

If Fed does not hike, things won't be as simple as 5.5% annual growth. It will be more. The past data behind this calculations comes from low monetary expansion era. When there is a flood of money, prices should inflate commensurately. Thus, if Fed does not hike,  S&P may average annual growth of ~10% or more for few years. 

Hence, S&P may double from here before Hussman's prediction comes true. We, no doubt, are establishing an extreme. We are confounded by its extremity.