Mike Rivers' Blog Headline Animator

Friday, March 07, 2008

Mid-cycle slowdown...or recession?

This question has occurred to me over and over again recently, because some very smart people are coming down on both sides of the argument.

To some, this may not seem very important. In a mid-cycle slowdown, the stock market goes down. In a recession, it goes down even more. If the market goes down either way, who cares?

But, the magnitude and period of decline make this difference very important to people with short term time frames. I'm not one of those people.

The yield curve, retail sales, the housing market, and credit markets all seem to be signaling a recession. The stock market seems to be indicating a mid-cycle slowdown. Employment data and factory activity are near recession levels, but not quite there, yet.

I'm guessing (with the emphasis on guessing) that we're entering a recession. My guess is based on my analysis of past credit cycle declines. Our economy has been increasingly levering itself since the mid-1980's. If deleveraging is occurring--and I believe it is--then a recession seems much more likely.

How does this alter my investment approach? Not much. I know I'm not smart enough to time the market, and especially not to time the economy!

So, how do I invest? Simply put, for the long term. I don't think our economy will go into a 10 year depression. If that were the case, then I'd be building a fallout shelter.

Instead, I'm investing for the eventual recovery that will happen either sooner, or later. Whether sooner or later is less important to me than having selecting good companies--those with good economics, honest and competent managers, that are selling at large discounts to what the company will be worth over full economic cycles.

That's a lot easier to do than trying to figure out what the economy will do in the short term. And, just between you, me and the fencepost...it's also a lot more profitable!

Nothing in this blog should be considered investment, financial, tax, or legal advice. The opinions, estimates and projections contained herein are subject to change without notice. Information throughout this blog has been obtained from sources believed to be accurate and reliable, but such accuracy cannot be guaranteed.

No comments: