Is Recession Imminent?

As fears of a looming recession rise, David Rosenberg, president of Rosenberg Research and former chief North American economist at Merrill Lynch, suggests that a recession might be imminent. Despite recent GDP figures showing growth, Rosenberg forewarns that the leading indicators hint that a recession could start as early as this quarter.

With inflation on the rise, Americans are struggling with wages that cannot keep up with the increasing cost of living. Should a recession occur, it could cause worse financial difficulties for many. Rosenberg explains a recession as a “haircut to national income” that is comparable to “the whole country taking a pay cut.” The effects of a recession will not only impact individuals but could also spell trouble for the stock market.

The outbreak of the pandemic, coupled with variations, broke the world’s economy, and a recession was just one of many repercussions. Even as the world struggled to recover from the pandemic’s impact, the United States Federal Reserve began hiking interest rates in early 2022. This move caused fears among investors as rates influence the economy and the stock market. Although the GDP figures indicate an expanding economy, Rosenberg warns that a recession might be closer than anticipated.

An economic recession could lead to increased unemployment, lower wages, and volatile stock markets, further exacerbating the gap between the rich and the poor. Therefore, policymakers must put measures to prevent such economic shockwaves, as a recession has far-reaching impacts on the nation’s livelihood and global economies.

Bear Market

According to David Rosenberg, he believes that he is bearish on equities as he’s not confident that all recessions are fully priced in, given the current valuations. He asserts that investing in investment-grade corporate bonds could be a plausible route to take due to the attractive yields on offer with debt offering priority over equity in a company’s capital structure. Among other opportunities, private credit investments have also emerged which offer a higher yield for investors who are looking to diversify their portfolios, but aren’t satisfied with most conventional savings accounts or certificates of deposit (CDs).

The S&P 500 took a bad hit in 2022, plunging 19.4%, and although it has experienced some revival in 2023 with a 9% uptick year-to-date, Rosenberg doesn’t believe this will be long-lived. On account of valuation, he highlights that there is a pressing concern regarding the 19 forward multiple. In his view, this will only result in a 5.3% earnings yield, whereas, he could “pick up 5.4% in single-A triple-B corporate credit” to “wind up in a better part of the capital structure”.

While bondholders will be given the first bite of the cherry, David Reilly, Chief Investment Officer at Nuveen’s Global Private Markets Group, highlights that these investors will often come with other expenses. The cost of investing in corporate credit to access these desirable yields could potentially see investors being forced to invest in leveraged loans or more higher-risk credit. Regardless of the obstacles, it is evident that there is a lot of funds in this space, given the record low-interest rates and a thirst for yield.

Furthermore, while commercial real estate has been enjoying high rewards too, there is significant debate concerning its future given flexible working now being the norm over an office-based environment. Consequently, alternative forms of profitable investments continue to shine and could serve as an alternative means for investors to access the exposures they desire.

From Weak Hands To Strong Hands

David Rosenberg has predicted that the S&P 500 will see a drop of around 23% due to a forthcoming recession in the US economy. His prediction, which is based on an assumption of a “classic 20% hit to earnings” and multiples falling to 15 or 16, puts the target price at 3,200. While the prospect of a significant downturn is not generally good news for investors, Rosenberg believes that those who have “dry powder and liquidity” will have an opportunity to purchase assets at better prices. This is because during a recession, assets tend to fall from weaker hands to stronger ones. The cleansing effect of the recession on the market means that it could be a good time to invest, providing the investor has the necessary liquidity. Rosenberg’s portfolio is currently underweight in equities, with the lowest weighting since 2007. Instead of stock investments, he has turned to bonds, gold, and alternative investments as uncorrelated supports to GDP.

Individuals looking to prepare for an economic downturn can invest in alternative assets, such as real estate. With as little as $100, those without extensive investment portfolios can diversify their holdings and potentially gain consistent income. Several assets offered today are well suited to taking advantage of trends in real estate, including real estate investment trusts, which provide periodic income and portfolio diversification. Investors can also turn to private real estate funds that invest in various types of property, such as commercial or residential, to further diversify their portfolio. Those with an entrepreneurial spirit can even take part in crowdfunding campaigns, which give access to small, high-yielding, long-term projects.

Despite the fears of market downturns, many investors are still seeing opportunities for growth and expansion. The current market conditions do not predict immediate economic disaster, and the ability to protect wealth and diversify through alternative assets offers investors a resilient portfolio. As we continue further into the 21st century, alternative asset classes will become an increasingly important component of investment portfolios.

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