Stock Market Could Crash Another 20% If U.S. Plunges Into Recession

As a growing number of investment banks and company chiefs warn that the likelihood of a recession is increasing, analysts at Morgan Stanley are telling clients that the stock market—despite reeling from a steep selloff in recent weeks—has plenty of room to fall before hitting levels consistent with recession-era lows, which would be especially bad for cyclical industries like travel and hospitality.

Despite major stock indexes plunging more than 20% below recent highs, markets are still only down by about 60% of the average drawdown compared with previous recessions (which denote two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth), Morgan Stanley analysts told clients in a Tuesday note.

As the Federal Reserve works to combat decades-high inflation with interest rate hikes that will likely stunt economic growth, a recession “is no longer just a tail risk,” analysts led by Michael Wilson wrote, putting the odds of one over the next year at 35%, up from 20% in March.

They estimate the S&P 500 could plunge as much as 20% to 3,000 points, from current levels of 3,770, if the U.S. falls into recession, citing earnings that tend to fall an average of 14% during recessions—a marked turnaround from record profits and 25% growth last year.

“The bear market will not be over until recession arrives—or the risk of one is extinguished,” the analysts said, adding that market weakness will likely continue over the next three to six months in the face of “very stubborn” inflation readings.

With high prices deterring some consumer spending, Morgan Stanley says stocks tied to discretionary spending, like those in retail, hotels, restaurants and clothing, are at higher risk of a downturn, while those tied to the internet, payments and durable household goods (like appliances and computers) are less at risk.

The note comes the same day Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the U.S. economy will “more likely than not” face a recession in the near term, echoing concerns raised by several other top business leaders and financial institutions following last week’s steeper-than-expected hike in key interest rates, which tend to deter spending by making borrowing more expensive.

Morgan Stanley’s not alone in raising recession odds this week. In a note to clients Monday, Goldman Sachs’ chief economist, Jan Hatzius, said the firm now sees “recession risk as higher and more front-loaded,” given the Fed’s more aggressive rate hike, putting the odds of a recession over the next two years at 48%, up from 35% previously. The investment bank estimates tighter financial conditions could drag down GDP as much as 2 percentage points over the next year.

Restaurants are most at risk of a pullback in spending, according to a Morgan Stanley survey of some 2,000 consumers. Roughly 75% of respondents said they’ll cut back on dining out over the next six months, while 60% said they’d do so on deliveries and takeout from restaurants. Though driving much of the inflationary gains, essential items like gas and groceries should see more resilient spending, with roughly 40% of consumers saying they’d cut back on either.

Major stock indexes plunged into bear market territory last week ahead of the Fed’s largest interest rate hike in 28 years, and the gloomy sentiment has ushered in waves of layoffs among recently booming technology and real estate companies. “We don’t believe the Fed can stop the issues that are causing inflation on the supply side without absolutely wrecking the economy, but at this point, it looks like they are resigned to the fact that it must be done,” says Brett Ewing, chief market strategist of First Franklin Financial Services. Goldman Sachs has warned clients it expects another 75-basis-point hike in July.

I’m a senior reporter at Forbes focusing on markets and finance. I graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Source: Stock Market Could Crash Another 20% If U.S. Plunges Into Recession—These Industries Are Most At Risk

The best hope for stocks right now is a recession that crushes inflation and allows the Fed to slow, stop or even reverse rate hikes.

Why it matters: Down 20.5% so far in 2022, it’s the ugliest year for the S&P since 1962. The drop vaporized $9 trillion in paper wealth, delivering a psychological shock to millions whose retirement is mostly in stocks.

Driving the news: Facing persistent inflation, the Fed delivered its largest rate hike since 1994 on Wednesday.

  • The increase is the monetary-policy equivalent of stomping on the country’s economic brakes — sharply increasing the risk that growth contracts.
  • Despite the recent beating shares have taken, the Fed’s announcement was greeted with open arms by investors. The S&P 500 rose 1.5%. The Nasdaq rose 2.5%. Interestingly, the Russell 2000 — which is more closely tied to short-term ups and downs of the economy — rose less, at just 1.4%.

The big picture: A huge rate hike that raises the risk of recession may sound like a bad thing for stocks — but with inflation still rising, it isn’t.

  • Essentially, investors are saying they prefer a big, sharp Fed-induced economic shock now if it quickly gets inflation under control. In theory, that could allow lower rates to return after inflation is vanquished.
  • Low interest rates have been crucial to the performance of stocks over the last decade.

Context: While Americans have a habit of looking at the stock market as an economic indicator, the linkage between economic growth and stock market performance is surprisingly weak, and, some academics say, nonexistent. The most extreme example of this reality arose during the bleakest moments of the COVID-related recession.

  • In April 2020, the U.S. economy was essentially on life support. Unemployment that month was 14.7%. There were, quite literally, bread lines miles long.
  • That month the S&P 500 posted its best month in 33 years, rising nearly 13%.

What gives? Well, in late March 2020, the Federal Reserve had to cut interest rates to zero and restart money-printing programs do deal with the COVID crisis. (The Federal government also began dumping what would ultimately be trillions of dollars into the economy to keep people afloat.)

The intrigue: But don’t recessions hurt corporate earnings? Wouldn’t that make stocks fall?

  • Earnings are one ingredient in stock prices, and they can definitely fall during recessions. But recently, interest rates — essentially the yield on the 10-year Treasury note — have played a more important role in establishing stock prices than earnings.
  • That’s because those interest rates largely determine the valuation multiple — otherwise known as a price-to-earnings ratio — investors use to determine the price they’re willing to pay for those future earnings (effectively, the price of a stock).
  • TL;DR: Higher rates = lower valuations, and vice versa.
  • So, even if earnings are expected to fall, stock prices can still rise, if valuations rise enough. Those valuations are largely determined by interest rates — and those rates are largely determined by Fed decisions.

The Federal Reserve made an aggressive new move in its campaign to bring down inflation Wednesday, raising its target interest rate by three-quarters of a percentage point, the steepest rate hike since 1994 — and indicated another similar move could be coming next month.

Driving the news: In addition to increasing their target for short-term interest rates to a range of between 1.5% and 1.75% Fed officials projected that their target rate will reach 3.4% late this year, far higher than the 1.9% they envisioned in March. Mortgages, car loans and credit card debt are all about to get more expensive.

Yields on U.S. government bonds — known as Treasuries — rocketed in recent days, as Friday’s inflation report convinced many that a combination of persistently high inflation and aggressive Federal Reserve interest hikes, is on the way. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note surged to nearly 3.50% in recent days, a level not seen since 2011……

  Matt Phillips

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The Market Is Right To Be Spooked By Rising Bond Yields

Nobody likes dropping cash, however Tuesday’s stock-price fall worries me greater than the headline of a 2% fall within the S&P 500 ought to. In itself, 2% is not any biggie: three days this yr had larger falls, and on common we now have had seven worse days a yr since 1964.

What bothers me is that the rise in bond yields that triggered the autumn was actually fairly small, and there may simply be much more to return. The ten-year Treasury yield rose solely 0.05 share level, taking it above 1.5%, and the 30-year rose barely extra to only above 2%. If that is the type of response we should always anticipate, then get out your tin hat. Yields must rise 4 occasions as a lot simply to get again to the place they had been in March.

Why, you would possibly fairly ask, are shares abruptly spooked by bond yields? Within the increase as much as March, shares and yields marched increased collectively, and for the previous 20 years increased yields have typically been higher for shares. The distinction is that investors see the central banks turning hawkish, whilst financial development slows, as a result of they will’t ignore excessive inflation.

As  Pascal Blanqué,chief funding officer at French fund supervisor Amundi, places it, the worry is of an increase in charges pushed by inflation alone pushing central banks to behave, somewhat than an increase in charges pushed by financial development pushing central banks round. That is the mind-set that dominated funding till the late Nineteen Nineties. If it sticks, it marks a profound change.

In the long term, it could imply bonds would not present a cushion when inventory costs drop, making portfolios extra unstable. Within the quick time period, if the sharp rise in yields since the Federal Reserve meeting last week is the beginning of a development, then shares are in bother. On the flip aspect, if yields come again down, it is perhaps good for shares—because it was on Friday—somewhat than unhealthy, as has often been the case for a few many years.

To see the risk, suppose again to the spring, when yields had been marching increased. The outlook for inflation is about the identical (buyers are pricing it as excessive however short-term). The outlook for financial development is worse, which gives much less help for shares typically. However central banks have shifted stance from super-easy for just about perpetually to start out speaking about tightening.

That is the improper type of rise in bond yields. When yields had been rising as much as their March excessive of 1.75% for the 10-year Treasury, shares had been on a tear as a result of yields had been being pushed up by the prospect of upper financial development, and so stronger income. Overwhelmed-up worth shares and economically-sensitive sectors soared, whereas Huge Tech and different development shares, plus the dependable earners generally known as high quality shares, went sideways. After March, falling yields boosted development and high quality shares once more, whereas worth and cyclical went sideways.

This time, shares are reacting as they do when yields rise as a consequence of a central financial institution hawkish shift. Huge Tech, other growth stocks and quality suffered the most, as their excessive valuations make them reliant on projected earnings far sooner or later; increased yields make these future earnings much less enticing in contrast with proudly owning tremendous secure bonds. However with out the prospect of upper financial development to spice up earnings, low cost worth and cyclical shares additionally fell when yields rose, albeit by lower than development and high quality.

There’s enormous uncertainty in regards to the potential financial outcomes, so we shouldn’t simply assume that this week’s buying and selling sample will proceed. On the plus aspect, increased capital spending and the pandemic-driven adoption of know-how would possibly enhance productiveness greater than employee shortages push up labor prices. This could damp inflation and speed up development.

A retreat of Covid-19 might ease pressure on manufacturing and change spending again to companies. On the down aspect, hovering power prices and better costs from widespread provide bottlenecks would possibly hit households and weaken the financial system additional, whilst inflation stays excessive—the dreaded stagflation state of affairs.

We ought to be even much less assured about how central banks will react. I see twin triggers for the market’s reassessment. First, Fed coverage makers upped their “dot plot” predictions for rates of interest subsequent yr and the yr after, together with inflation. Second, the Financial institution of England, faced with an energy price crunch and higher-than-forecast inflation, warned of a potential price rise earlier than the tip of this yr. A slew of emerging-market central banks additionally raised charges, as did oil-producer Norway.

If the financial system reacts badly to increased yields, although, the Fed and Financial institution of England would possibly properly shift again to uber-dovishness. The withdrawal of emergency authorities spending measures in a lot of the world may also give the doves a brand new cause to maintain charges low.

Lastly, there’s uncertainty in regards to the market response itself. Possibly Tuesday’s bond strikes had been exacerbated by a mixture of momentum promoting and yields (which transfer in the other way to costs) rising above the brink of 1.5% on the 10-year and a pair of% on the 30-year. It may not be a coincidence that shares did properly on Friday as soon as the 10-year dropped again under 1.5%.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

How involved are you in regards to the late September stock-price fall? Weigh in under. Spherical numbers shouldn’t matter, however typically do, whereas momentum is short-term. Tuesday’s transfer wasn’t pushed by an occasion on the day, so maybe the brand new narrative of hawkishness received stick. In spite of everything, it shouldn’t be that massive a deal to withdraw some financial help when inflation is greater than double the goal and coverage has by no means been simpler.

Given Huge Tech’s outsize share of the general market, buyers within the S&P 500 should be satisfied that if bond yields are going to maintain rising, it is going to be for the great cause of an accelerating financial system, not the unhealthy cause of sticky inflation pushing central banks to behave.

By: james.mackintosh@wsj.com

Source: The Market Is Right to Be Spooked by Rising Bond Yields – WSJ

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