Opposing Views from Two Top Market-Timers

Which way is the market headed? In articles on MarketWatch.com and Bloomberg.com, two market-timers with good track records lay out starkly different viewpoints on the issue.

On the bullish side is Gray Emerson Cardiff of the Sound Advice investment newsletter, according to Peter Brimelow of MarketWatch. The newsletter has averaged a 7.16% annual return over the past decade while the broader market has declined at a -1.59% pace. Cardiff uses two main indicator models: a “Diffusion Index”, which tracks unemployment, building permits for housing, timeliness of supplier deliveries, and the spread between short- and long-term Treasury yields; and a “Risk Indicator”, which tracks the relative value of equities against housing prices, Brimelow writes.

Those measures are indicating that “we are approaching the cusp of a new SuperCycle, during which equities should outperform real estate,” Cardiff recently wrote.

Sound Advice sees a long period of inflation, and is high on natural resource stocks like Leucadia National Corp. (LUK), Brimelow says. “Some investors will wait for improving corporate earnings before considering stocks,” Cardiff says. “By the time that happens, we think the lion’s share of price recovery will be over.”

An opposing view comes from Robert Prechter, a chartist who predicted both the 1987 market crash and the 2007 market peak.

According to Bloomberg, Prechter, who publishes The Elliott Wave Theorist newsletter, “says dividend payouts, the ratio of share prices to earnings and dwindling cash at mutual funds mean U.S. equities may plunge as much as 80 percent.”

“Elliott Wave Theory” is based on the concept that the market moves in a predictable, five-stage structure of three steps, or waves, forward, two steps back, Bloomberg explains. “In addition, the waves share a variety of features: Wave two never falls below the starting level of wave one; wave three is never the shortest; waves one and five tend to be of equal length; and wave sizes are often related by a series of numbers known as the Fibonacci sequence, wherein each number is based on the sum of the two previous ones.”

“Prechter … also argues that markets are fundamentally driven by social psychology. The current trend toward saving and avoidance of debt is leading to an economic depression and deflation, he said,” according to Bloomberg.

Is Prechter right, or is Cardiff? Only time will tell.

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