surviving the next twelve months (iv)

what makes me optimistic

I’m a growth stock investor.  So I’m optimistic by nature.

More to the point, the two worries about thinking stocks will go sideways to up as the Fed normalizes interest rates are that:

–recovery in the US may continue to be sub-par..  

If so, the normalization process is going to take a looong time, since the Fed’s goal is to raise interest rates at a slow enough pace that the economy in unaffected.  Yes, the Fed may make a mistake, but the error it typically makes is to wait too long to raise rates, not to raise them too fast.

In addition, there’s serious discussion in economic circles that maybe the way we have measured economic progress in the US in the post-WWII era has passed its “use by” date and isn’t capturing what’s going on in an Internet-centric world.  After all, it took many years for government data to acknowledge that personal computers enhanced productivity and increased consumers’ well-being.  We’re now in the midst of a much greater period of change–the baton-passing from Baby Boomers to Millennials and the demise of the post-WWII corporation designed on the model of the 1940s Army.

Maybe the economy is a lot hardier than we now think.  If so, the strength of earnings growth may not be the issue the market perceives it to be.

–the rest of the world is a mess…

therefore the 50% of S&P 500 earnings that comes from abroad will  be a source of disappointment.

As far as commodity-based emerging economies are concerned, “mess” is probably an apt characterization.  But they’re (thankfully) only a tiny portion of the foreign 50% of S&P earnings.  The key areas for the index are Europe and Asia, especially China.

As far as Europe goes, there’s evidence that the worse of the recession is behind it.  The euro may have bottomed against the dollar, as well.  The EU is still struggling with the problem of Greece.  But that’s not because Greece is a key economic driver for the EU (quite the opposite), but because Brussels fears that allowing/forcing one member to leave the union will set a precedent, and encourage separatist political parties elsewhere.

I have no idea whether Greece goes or stays.  But I think that the negative economic consequences for Greece–Cuba is the only analogue I can come up with, and it’s not a very good one (Argentina?)–of leaving the EU will be so devastating for the country that Grexit itself will silence separatists.

There are also the first signs of economic stabilization in China.

So maybe the half of S&P earnings that come from abroad also won’t be as bad as the market now thinks.

an active strategy

areas to avoid–stocks whose main attraction is their dividend

areas to emphasize–Internet economy, firms catering to Millennials



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