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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

An overwhelming majority of the world's asset managers think stocks are overvalued and expect a recession this year or in 2021, according to a survey released Wednesday by the Boston Consulting Group.

  • Many say "the current bull market is running on borrowed time."

Why it matters: The survey of more than 250 asset managers and analysts who oversee $300 billion at firms that collectively manage over $10 trillion shows the continued apprehension of investors from around the globe.

  • "The survey, conducted in November and December 2019, found that, on average, respondents’ outlook is similar to what it was just before the market correction in late 2018."
  • Even with stocks racing higher into the end of 2019, market sentiment was "nearly identical to what we found in our 2018 survey when we saw a clear shift in sentiment from bullish to bearish."
Expand chart
Data: BCG 2014-2019 investor surveys; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Background: The S&P 500 has gone the longest amount of time in history without a 20% decline, or bear market, and that has a lot of money managers anxious — expecting that the good times cannot last forever.

  • BCG's survey also finds that worries about geopolitical uncertainty are adding to these fears as are the political environment and the upcoming U.S. presidential election.

Details: The stock market's historically high price-to-earnings ratio is the top concern, investors say.

  • 73% of respondents say they see markets as currently overvalued, up from 67% in the 2018 survey.
  • Among self-described market bears in the 2019 survey, 78% cited market overvaluation as the reason for their pessimism, versus 64% in the 2018 survey.

One level deeper: Fear that U.S. equities are headed for consistently weaker performance is gaining steam, with investors' expectations for total return falling to a record low of 5.6% — well below the average 10.1% annual total stock return of the S&P 500 since 1926.

  • Despite the S&P far outpacing these levels in three of the last four years, the expected return of 5.6% "roughly matches the expectation level reported in our previous three surveys," BCG analysts say in the report.

Yes, but: "Although many investors believe that the current bull market is running on borrowed time, few anticipate a major market crash or deep recession," the survey notes.

  • The 71% of respondents expecting a recession in the next two years is down from 74% in the 2018 survey.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Economy & Business

The billionaire balloon

Data: World Inequality Report 2022; Chart: Axios Visuals

The super-rich are getting stupid rich: New data out today shows the share of global wealth held by the richest slice of humanity swelled by almost a full percentage point during the pandemic.

Driving the news: The top 0.01% of individuals now hold about 11% of the world's wealth, compared to just over 10% in 2020, according to the "World Inequality Report 2022," written by Lucas Chancel, Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
1 hour ago - Health

Omicron gives a shot to boosters

Expand chart
Data: CDC; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Vaccination rates have ticked higher since the discovery of the Omicron variant, CDC data shows.

By the numbers: The seven-day average for vaccinations in the U.S. reached about 1.8 million on Monday, up from an average of about 1.3 million a month ago.

Scoop: Over 200 papers quietly sue Big Tech

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Newspapers all over the country have been quietly filing antitrust lawsuits against Google and Facebook for the past year, alleging the two firms monopolized the digital ad market for revenue that would otherwise go to local news. 

Why it matters: What started as a small-town effort to take a stand against Big Tech has turned into a national movement, with over 200 newspapers involved across dozens of states.