Warren Buffett famously advised investors to “be greedy when others are fearful.” With stocks all over the world getting clubbed in recent days, there is no shortage of fear out there. The question is: will all that negative sentiment become another “wall of worry” that the markets climb to new highs? I can’t say for sure. No one can. I will say that during yesterday’s gruesome selloff, I spent more time adding to my fund’s short book than searching out potential buys. That’s because, even with the Dow and S&P suffering their worst weekly declines in four years, I still see wildly, even stupidly overvalued companies everywhere I look.
Late last month the Commerce Department revised first quarter economic growth from its initially tepid .2 percent estimate to a putrid negative .7 percent. There was no shortage of excuses for these results. The West Coast port slowdown was cited, as was the usual whipping boy, severe winter weather. In April, CNBC analyzed 30 years of GDP data and showed that first quarter growth persistently underperforms expectations. Whatever the reason, or reasons, the fact remains that –seven years in–we are still mired in the slowest post-recession recovery in US history.
And, to paraphrase Humphrey Bogart, things are never so bad that they can’t get worse.
I realized in all the excitement with the release of my book this week that I haven’t taken a moment to wish everyone a Happy New Year!
I’d also like to thank everyone who has emailed me and left comments here and elsewhere complimenting the book*–not to mention the editors at Amazon who named it one of the Best Books of the Month and the folks who have written about it this past week like Bram de Haas at Seeking Alpha and Martin Zwilling at Forbes. My co-writer Jesse Powell and I worked hard on the book for several years and I’m quite proud of it, so it’s great to hear that people are appreciating what we produced.**
Okay, now back to blogging.
It’s the silly season in the financial world. Everybody and their uncle is going around like Carnac the Magnificent making all sorts of predictions about what 2015 will bring. Of course, nobody actually has a clue what’s going to happen ten minutes from now, let alone six or twelve months down the line. Our economy and our markets are so massive, so complex and dynamic, that only a fool or an egomaniac would offer his outlook and advice for the coming year.
That being said, here is my outlook and advice for 2015:
Yesterday the Commerce Department reported that the US economy shrank one percent in 2014’s first quarter, surprisingly worse than its initial estimate in late April of .1 percent growth. Most people blame the brutal “polar vortex” winter weather for this decline. All morning, the talking heads on CNBC have been excitedly predicting that, with the weather improving, second quarter growth will rebound to two or even possibly three to four percent. The recovery, they say, is accelerating. To which I would reply: you call this a recovery?