“I was asked to lay out the case for the US being mid-cycle,” said my favorite strategist. “Residential housing is 4% of GDP now, that’s consistent with past recessionary levels. So perhaps it jumps to 8%,” he continued.
“Equipment and machinery spending is just 6% of GDP.” Pretty consistent with previous recessions. “So maybe both expand, and incomes rise.” Which leads to higher inflation and shrinking profit margins. “Then perhaps the Fed tolerates rising prices which means that nominal growth remains strong even if real growth rates slow,” he postulated.
“So in that case, workers do better, and companies are worse off on a relative basis. But in that 7% nominal GDP world, inflation might mask the pain well enough to allow stocks to sail through,” continued my favorite strategist.
“You think about that hypothetical and it’s possible,” he said. “But then you listen to what the companies are saying, and you walk away with the sense that there’s just no way.” Homebuilding stocks are -30% from the January highs.
“If you just look across the spectrum, interest-sensitive equities are screaming late-cycle.”
“Making the mid-cycle case raised my conviction that we’re late-cycle,” he said. “America’s fiscal boost masked the natural cycle dynamics.” The US is the outlier. In dollar terms, of the major markets, only American stocks are higher on the year.
“So if US stocks catch up and crash from here, what happens next?” he asked rhetorically. “I think most people will conclude we’re headed into another depression. But I think there will be great things to buy. Probably in the places that are already crashing and burning.”
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