Lord Abbett’s Ezrati: Economy Not as Grim as It Appears

The market strategist remains upbeat, saying the problems faced by the world economy were priced-in already and those problems were unlikely to escalate

Milton Ezrati, partner and senior economic and market strategist at Lord Abbett said that while there were three major concerns driving moves by markets, the economic opportunities in the markets were by no means as bad as they might appear.

Milton EzratiSpeaking in a Wednesday morning call presented by EnvestNet titled, “What’s Moving Markets,” Ezrati (left) said that “while there is very little good news to talk about in a historical sense,” the problems faced by the world economy were priced-in already and those problems were unlikely to escalate. The three concerns he referred to were the European sovereign debt crisis, the fear of a double-dip recession and the congressional supercommittee’s report about the fiscal situation in the U.S.

Although repeatedly stressing that none of the news was actually good in a historical sense, Ezrati sounded positively upbeat as he discussed the “good” news, which he said came in two parts:

First, that both stock market and credit-sensitive fixed instruments are priced for disaster or near disaster, and second, as bad as the situation may be, “we are going to avoid disaster. Lord Abbett is bullish on credit-sensitive instruments and equities,” he added, continuing, “We think there’s more to go in this market. It’s very cheaply priced for a disaster that will not occur.”

Addressing the three potential disasters he mentioned in reverse order, Ezrati also said that the supercommittee was likely to surprise everyone and come up with budget cuts that top their mandated $1.2 trillion, and that, further, those cuts would actually make it into legislation.

The European situation, he said, was driven by three factors that would prevent dissolution of the eurozone and chaotic default. Those are the “tremendous political capital” that is at stake for European leaders; a recognition by Germany that one way or another it will have to pay—either to bail out the peripheral eurozone or to bail out banks; and the fact that the European Central Bank “finally stepped up to help the eurozone survive” by buying Spanish and Italian bonds.

Last, regarding fears of double-dip recession, although he conceded that the economy “will not boom” and unemployment was still high, Ezrati claimed the U.S. economy would not sink back into recession. Pointing to lower oil prices, what he said was a stronger household sector and Japan’s return to “almost 100% capacity” after its triple disaster earlier in the year, as well as markets “in better shape than they were” and a housing market that “seems to have stabilized,” he said that people would return to junk and munis for higher yields after a flight to quality had “driven them to agencies and Treasuries.”

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