Two ways of thinking about this chart of stocks and recessions

This post was originally published on TKer.com.

Jim Reid, macro strategist at the bank, wrote that “historically the S&P 500 normally always only bottoms in a recession and usually not until mid-way through.”

Reid and his colleagues expect the U.S. economy to enter a recession in 2023. As such, they also believe the S&P 500 is “likely” to see a low that year before resuming any rally.

There are two ways of thinking about this chart.

First, recessions are common in history and recession-related market downturns can be very tough. On average, the S&P has historically lost about a third of its value during these periods.

Second, the chart reminds us that the stock market has always recovered those losses and then some. Yes, there are extended periods of difficulty, which make the market unfriendly for investors with weak stomachs and very short time horizons. But for those with longer-term investment horizons, time pays.

According to FactSet240 of the S&P 500 companies made mention of “recession” on their recent Q2 earnings calls. This was well above the five-year average of 52. It’s clear that recessions are on a lot of people’s minds.

But it’s not all gloom.

“The thing about recessions is, they’re always followed by a recovery,“ Jeff Campbell, CFO of American Express, said on the company’s earnings call.

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Reviewing the macro crosscurrents 🔀

There were a few notable datapoints from last week to consider.

  • According to GasBuddy’s Patrick De Haan, the national average price of gasoline fell to $3.72 on Fridaydown from its high of $5.02 on June 14. This is great news as energy is a major driver of most measures of inflation.

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  • The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Indexa composite of labor market indicators, improved in August. From the firm’s economist Frank Steemers: “Labor shortages may continue to be a challenge for businesses, and even if they ease during a coming recession, they could soon reappear after economic activity picks up again. Therefore, employers may try to hold onto their workers.“

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  • Consumers, including lower-income consumers, still have money to spend. From a Bank of America report released Friday: “Bank of America data also indicates that customer savings and checking accounts continue to remain elevated relative to before the pandemic. The largest proportionate increases in median savings and checking balances are seen in lower income households (Exhibit 11). There has been some rise in the share of total card spending on credit cards in Bank of America internal data, Exhibit 12, but this is relatively small. The rise also seems more focused in higher income households rather than lower income ones.“

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  • The massive U.S. services sector came with mixed reports. According to the ISM Services PMIgrowth accelerated in the sector during August. Meanwhile, the S&P Global U.S. Services PMI suggested activity in the sector contracted at the sharpest rate since May 2020. However, both reports showed prices were cooling, supplier delivery times were normalizing, and hiring was still positive.

  • Supply chains have improved considerably in recent months. The New York Fed’s Global Supply Chain Pressure Index — a composite of various supply chain indicators — fell in August to its lowest level since February 2021, meaning supply chains are easing.

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  • Mortgage rates continue to trend higher. According to Freddie Macthe average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose to 3.89% during the week ending September 8. This was the highest reading since November 2008.

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  • New data from Redfin confirmed this negative selling sentiment. From Redfin’s weekly housing market update: “New listings of homes for sale were down 18% from a year earlier, also the largest decline since May 2020. Active listings (the number of homes listed for sale at any point during the period) fell 1.2% from the prior four-week period.“

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  • Stocks rallied last week with the S&P 500 rising 3.6% to close at 4,067.36. The index is now down 15.2% from its January 3 closing high of 4,796.56 and up 10.9% from its June 16 closing low of 3,666.77.

Putting it all together 🤔

Whether it’s due to the slowing economy or the cooling housing market, inflation seems to be moderating and supply chains seem to be improving. All of this is happening as the labor market remains robustmarked by low layoff activity.

While price indicators have been easing, inflation remains high. And so financial markets remain volatile as the Fed increasingly tightens financial conditions in its effort to bring down inflation. As such, recession risks linger and analysts have been trimming their forecasts for earnings. For now, all of this makes for a conundrum for the stock market until we get “compelling evidence” that inflation is indeed under control.

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The stock market can be an intimidating place: it’s real money on the line, there’s an overwhelming amount of information, and people have lost fortunes in it very quickly. But it’s also a place where thoughtful investors have long accumulated a lot of wealth. The primary difference between those two outlooks is related to misconceptions about the stock market that can lead people to make poor investment decisions.

This post was originally published on TKer.com.

Sam Ro is the author of TKer.co. Follow him on Twitter at @SamRo

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