If 2018 rings in a bear market, it could look something like the Kennedy Slide of 1962.

That was my conclusion in “Riding the Slide,” published in early September, where I showed that the Kennedy Slide was unique among bear markets of the last eighty years. It was the only bear that wasn’t obviously provoked by rising inflation, tightening monetary policy, deteriorating credit markets or, less commonly, world war or depression.

Moreover, market conditions leading up to the Slide should be familiar—they’re not too far from market conditions since Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election. In the first year after Kennedy’s election, as in the first year after Trump’s election, inflation seemed under control, interest rates were low, credit spreads were tight, and the economy was growing. And, in both cases, the stock market was booming.

Here’s an updated look at Trump’s stock rally versus the Kennedy rally and subsequent Slide:


As you can see, we’ve now reached the chart’s critical juncture—at this time of the calendar in 1962, the post-election rally was ending, and the Slide was about to begin. Our chart begs the question: Will the similarities continue and lead us into a Trump Slide in early 2018?

Or, with less drama, you might like to hear my Q1 stock market outlook.

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We’ve been seeing more and more commentaries discussing bad stuff that can happen when the Fed tightens policy and, as a result, the yield curve flattens. (See, for example, this piece from Citi Research and ZeroHedge.) No doubt, the Fed’s rate hikes will lead to mishaps as they usually do—in both markets and the economy. But most forecasters expect the economy to expand through next year, believing that the Fed and the yield curve aren’t yet restrictive enough to trigger a recession.

We won’t make a full-year 2018 forecast here, but we’ll share one of our “dashboard” charts that supports the consensus view for at least the first half of the year. With one methodological change to a chart we published in August, we’ll look at the following indicators, which together have an excellent track record predicting the business cycle:

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In September, we proposed a theory of the Fed and suggested the FOMC will soon worry mostly about financial imbalances without much concern for recession risks. We reached that conclusion by weighing the reputational pitfalls faced by the economists on the committee, but now we’ll add more meat to our argument, using financial flows data released last week.

We’ve created two charts, beginning with a look at cumulative, inflation-adjusted asset gains during the last seven business cycles:

powell change 1

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Last month, the good people at Focus Economics asked me for my thoughts on cryptocurrencies, allowing either a general outlook or my answers to two specific questions:

  1. Could cryptocurrencies supplant traditional currencies or are alternative currencies a bubble that will eventually burst?
  2. Could a central bank really issue its own digital currency in the near future? How could this affect the world economy and financial markets?

I went with a general outlook, although I might have used a different format had I realized my response would be printed verbatim alongside twenty others. In any case, it was interesting to see the diversity of views. A few respondents even sounded as though the crypto craze made them angry.

Here’s the link:


Rereading my own contribution, I should have written that “the vast majority of cryptocurrencies will fail” instead of “many cryptocurrencies will fail.”

And in case you missed it, Bitcoin topped $15,000 this morning.