Guggenheim CIO Calls Recession Fears ‘Overblown’

Scott Minerd says Davos attendees tend to misread the tea leaves.

While the Davos set wrings their hands over pessimistic global economic forecasts, Guggenheim Partners Global CIO Scott Minerd offers a contrary view, saying concerns about a global recession are exaggerated and that “if anything, the outlook is brightening.”

In a recent note to clients, Minerd concludes that the collective financial brainpower that congregates each year at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, provides valuable predictive views, albeit in a contra-indicatory fashion.

“The amber lights flashing in Davos are signaling the consensus view that global growth is slowing,” wrote Minerd. “Given past experience, this may be the signal that the economy is likely to re-accelerate soon and that the party in risk assets continues.”

Minerd points out that last year “the air was electric with the bullish outlook for global growth,” as stocks surged ahead on the euphoria of a massive tax cut in the US. However, he adds, “we did not have to wait long as stocks fell into a sickening plunge in February.”

He also notes that two years ago, when the combination of a widening spread between credit securities and lower-risk assets, falling oil prices, and a stock sell-off led many pundits to predict that a bear market was about to rear its ugly head, the bull market kept barreling forward.

And in 2016, when the hot topic at Davos was the emergence of Africa as an important component of future global growth, he says the immediate experience proved to be a disappointment for investors.

But Minerd backs up his view with more than just the fact that the folks at Davos have proven to be poor soothsayers in recent years.

He notes that while global growth is slowing, it is “still plowing ahead,” and that although growth in the US will probably slow, he believes it will remain “at or ahead of potential in 2019.” He also said that the US Federal Reserve will most likely remain unchanged well into the second quarter with the market pricing in a possible rate cut if necessary to sustain growth.

He adds that while Germany may be entering a technical recession, Chancellor Angela Merkel has called for new tax cuts. “Of all nations that can afford fiscal stimulus, Germany stands at the head of the class,” said Minerd. “It has a history of fiscal discipline and is well-positioned to deliver.”

And despite a slowdown in growth in China, he said that Chinese equities have recently stabilized after a long slide, and are beginning to offer value relative to their global counterparts.

“While I concur with my colleagues here in Davos that a synchronized global slowdown is underway, fears of recession are overblown,” said Minerd. “The somber mood of Davos could again prove to be a contra-indicator,” he added, noting that “policymakers are beginning to awaken to the mounting risks arising from a protracted trade war and increasing nationalism.”

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