‘The big education for me is that civilisation is fragile and can be destroyed in a heartbeat' - Jeremy Brade, former peacekeeper in Sarajevo.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Financial experts "miserably bearish"

This report by Jim McTague from Barron's, reproduced on the Cumberland Advisors site, gives an indication of how the money experts were feeling this month, on their annual fishing trip in Maine:

[David] Kotok's diagnosis of the cause of the gloom that permeated the crowd was this: Most of them see more economic downside than upside; we don't have functioning credit markets; banks and big Wall Street credit intermediaries are either dead, wounded or on life-support; housing is a wreck; and the auto industry "is done."

Once the economy stabilizes, it will take many years to fully recover, he said, because no strong growth engines are evident. "That's why people are so gloomy! They see no upside!" He personally is investing client money in agricultural plays because, he says, the long-term price of food is trending up. He likes bio-companies whose products are geared to an aging population. And he likes Asia as an investment destination...and he doesn't like much else.

I conducted in-depth interviews with a dozen of the participants. They all perceive the economy in the early stages of a multiyear recession that will be the most painful downturn since the 1970s. The housing market, which experts once predicted would recover in 2008, may not recover even in 2009. Credit woes on Wall Street will begin to inflict real pain on Main Street.

We're already seeing the impact on housing, though the worst may not have happened yet; and I think stocks and bonds are still in something of a fool's paradise. I'm sticking with my guess that in retrospect, we will see that the upturn began in the Spring of 2010.

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