(Apologies to Rudyard Kipling for paraphrasing his poem, If.) Tis the season when everyone assesses where we’ve been and where we might be going. Last week, a lot of research companies and publications explored investor confidence and expectations. Here is a brief review of the commentary being offered:
“The Great Reflation Trade of 2021: Most Optimistic Survey in its Six-Year History.” Absolute Strategy Research published its survey of probabilities, which asked chief investment officers, asset allocators, economists, and multi-asset strategists to describe their 12-month outlook for financial markets. The results the most optimistic result in six years with 81 percent of those participating saying they were bullish.
“Froth or fundamentals? What explains investors’ enthusiasm for risky assets?” The Economist wrote, “…equities have become more attractive than bonds – at first probably because bond yields fell so quickly, boosting the relative appeal of stocks, but lately thanks to the vaccine heralding the return of growth and profits, which a modest increase in yields has not offset. The rise in share prices alone, then, is probably not enough to indicate a mania…”
“The S&P 500 Could Gain Another 10% Next Year, Experts Say.” Barron’s cover article sported this optimistic headline and confidently reported, “This year brought heartache to Main Street but joy to Wall Street. Next year, if vaccines vanquish the coronavirus, as expected, and the economy rebounds, it could be a time of celebration for both.”
“Gleeful consensus on equities sparks concern over ‘groupthink’” Financial Time’s Naomi Rovnick spoke with the head of behavioral finance at a British consulting firm about exceptional levels of bullishness. He said, “‘This year has been dominated by one story, which is COVID, and this is a very new and unusual situation that financial forecasters have no pre-existing framework to use to form their views…It is likely they are cleaving to consensus more than they otherwise would.’”
No matter what you read about what’s to come, the important thing to remember is this: “No one can predict the markets. The overwhelming evidence from decades of academic research is that nobody can reliably and accurately forecast what the stock market will do,” reported Jeff Sommer of The New York Times.
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