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It's not yet clear that the stock market swoon is predictive or merely a panic attack triggered by a loss of meds.
We contrarians can't help it: when the herd is bullish, we start looking for a reversal. When the herd turns bearish, we also start looking for a reversal.
Herd - Recession - Contrarians - Rally - Offing
So now that the herd is skittishly bearish, anticipating a recession, contrarians start wondering if a most hated rally is in the offing, one that would leave most punters off the bus.
The primary theme for 2019 in my view is everything accepted by the mainstream is not as it seems. Everything presented as monolithic and straightforward is fragmented, asymmetric and complex.
Definition - Recession - Quarters - GDP - Economy
Take "recession." The standard definition of recession is two consecutive quarters of negative GDP. But is this metric useful in such a fragmented, complex economy? What we're seeing develop is certain sectors are already in recession, others are sliding while others are doing OK.
So the question of stocks rising or falling partly depends on which parts of the economy are most heavily weighted in the stock market. If the sectors most heavily represented by listed stocks are doing OK, then other chunks of the economy can be in freefall and stocks could still rise.
State - Market - Participants - % - Decline
There's also the psychological state of market participants. Was the 20% decline in the 4th quarter a much-delayed reaction to impending recession or was it a panic attack caused by the Federal Reserve withdrawing some of its largesse, i.e. lowering the Fed Put?
It it turns out to be more panic-attack than rational response, a relief rally might be expected.
Bag - Tricks - Stocks - Analysts - Drop
Then there's the usual bag of tricks to consider. When stocks slide, analysts quickly drop revenue and profit estimates, setting up the potential for "positive surprises" so beloved by Bulls. It's an old game, lowering estimates enough so even weak earnings...
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