Two of the questions I get most often these days are, “What kind of cycle are we in?” and “Where do we stand in it?” My main response is that the developments of the last five months are non-cyclical in nature, and thus not subject to the usual cycle analysis.
The normal cycle starts off from an economic and market low; overcomes psychological and capital market headwinds; benefits from gathering strength in the economy; witnesses corporate results that exceed expectations; is amplified by optimistic corporate decisions; is reinforced by increasingly positive investor sentiment; and thus fosters rising prices for stocks and other risk assets until they become excessive at the top (and vice versa on the downside). But in the current case, a moderate recovery – marked by reasonable growth, realistic expectations, an absence of corporate overexpansion and a lack of investor euphoria – was struck down by an unexpected meteor strike.
People also ask what’s different about this episode from those I’ve lived through in the past.
Another frequent question is, “What shape will the economic recovery take?” Everyone has his or her favorite candidate: a W, an L, a U or maybe a Nike Swoosh. Of course, the one we hear the most about is a V. While the terminology used isn’t crucial, and may basically be just a matter of semantics, I find the label “V-shaped” misleading.
Of all the people who use the label “V-shaped” to describe this recovery, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone define it. To me, a “V” has to satisfy two important requirements: Full Article