Fund manager John Hussman, whose funds have struggled in recent years but have good long-term track records, says he thinks the economy has entered recession.
“I noted two weeks ago that the leading evidence pointed to a further weakening in employment, with an abrupt dropoff in industrial production and new orders,” Hussman writes in his latest market commentary. He says there has been a “litany of awful figures” since then. “U.S. manufacturing new orders and export orders plunging from expansion to contraction, Eurozone new export orders plunging (only orders from Greece fell at a faster rate than those of Germany), and an accelerating decline in new orders in both China and Japan,” he says. Hussman also says the disappointing 80,000 jobs added to the economy in June may soon be a figure “looked on longingly”, as he expects job growth will turn negative within a few months.
Hussman says that many investors seem to be counting on the Federal Reserve to provide more quantitative easing, and thus haven’t been too rattled by the latest data. But, he says, a third round of QE isn’t likely to have nearly the impact earlier QE had. “In short, the effect of quantitative easing has diminished substantially since 2009, when risk-premiums were elevated and amenable to being pressed significantly lower,” he says. “At present, risk-premiums are thin, and the S&P 500 has retreated very little from its April 2012 peak. My impression is that QE3 would (will) be unable to pluck the U.S. out of an unfolding global recession, and that even the ability to provoke a speculative advance in risky assets will be dependent on those assets first declining substantially in value.” He also talks about what he thinks the real solution to the global debt troubles is — restructuring bad debt instead of rescuing it.