Mar 31, 2019

The stock market loves nothing more than to climb a wall of worry

There are lots of reasons to be very worried about the markets and the economy, should you be so inclined.

Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios
  • The yield curve inverted last week, which normally presages a recession.
  • The economy is decelerating fast: GDP growth was 4.2% in the second quarter of 2018, 3.4% in the third quarter, and 2.2% in the fourth quarter. Economists expect it will register a mere 1.7% growth in the first quarter of 2019.
  • The White House is calling for an immediate half-point cut in overnight interest rates, as Axios' Dion Rabouin first reported. That kind of sudden rate cut generally only happens in an economic emergency.
  • The herd of unicorns rushing to go public is raising worries that the smart money is getting out at the top of the market.

All of these concerns can easily be countered, if you're feeling bullish. As of Friday, the yield curve is no longer inverted; economic growth is expected to pick up again in the second quarter; the people calling for rate cuts say that there's no emergency; IPOs are a sign of optimism, not a reason for pessimism.

The bottom line: The stock market loves nothing more than to climb a wall of worry, and it duly posted a spectacularly good first quarter. Bond investors were happy too, with the 10-year bond yield falling to levels not seen since 2017. That in turn created new optimism for mortgage origination. The macroeconomic concerns are real, but the bull market rages onward.

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