As I take passing note of the war of the pundits (and the everyday squawkers) — the bulls versus the bears — I am forever amused (please pardon my condescension) by the sheer simplicity of their respective arguments.
The bulls’ mantra is that the consumer’s in great shape, and that the Fed has committed to keep it that way; thus, the stock market has a huge run ahead of it. Conversely, the bears chant how the Fed is blowing up the mother of all bubbles, that the global industrial economy is — per the data they cite — on the brink of collapse, and that the consumer is always the last to fall, and, when he/she does, the end comes rapidly.
Benoit Mandelbrot (1924-2010) was indisputably one of history’s great geniuses, yet even a man of such superior intellect saw the global economy as “unfathomably complicated”:
“…clearly, the global economy is an unfathomably complicated machine. To all the complexity of the physical world of weather, crops, ores, and factories, you add the psychological complexity of men acting on their fleeting expectations of what may or may not happen — sheer phantasms. Companies and stock prices, trade flows and currency rates, crop yields and commodity futures — all are inter-related to one degree or another, in ways we have barely begun to understand. In such a world, it is common sense that events in the distant past continue to echo in the present.”
The bulls and the bears I speak of above are in way above their heads.
P.S. Clients, Yes, I know, I’ve sounded more like the bear I describe since the summer. But, nevertheless, we’re moving into next year in a manner designed to still capture some upside, if it’s there; while, of course, hedging against a big bear market.