S&P 500 Will Drop 43%: Shilling

Legendary bear delivers more bad news

Money manager, economist and AdvisorOne contributor Gary Shilling is out with another bold prediction, one that might have legs. Shilling spoke about the outlook for the U.S. economy with Bloomberg Television Wednesday and said that the S&P 500 will drop 43% from its recent level this year. 

Shilling said, "the analysts have been cranking their numbers down […]. I think that is true because you have foreign earnings that don't look good because of recession unfolding in Europe, a stronger dollar, […] and a hard landing in China."

Gary ShillingShilling, (left), also said that, "in the U.S., we could see a moderate recession led by consumer retrenchment."

For those who might think the prediction is a bit too outlandish, consider that the World Trade Organization announced Thursday that global trade will slow to 3.7% in 2012, after 5% growth in 2011 and 13.8% in 2010.

"More than three years have passed since the trade collapse of 2008-09, but the world economy and trade remain fragile," WTO chief Pascal Lamy said, in words that made Shilling sound positively bullish. "The further slowing of trade expected in 2012 shows that the downside risks remain high. We are not yet out of the woods."

Shilling on his report that the S&P will drop 43% from its recent level:

"The analysts have been cranking their numbers down. They started off north of 110 then 105.  They are now 102. They are moving in my direction. I think that is true because you have foreign earnings that don't look good because of recession unfolding in Europe, stronger dollar, so they are translation losses. In the U.S., we could see a moderate recession led by consumer retrenchment. I think that that kind of earnings estimate is not unreasonable […]. It's a quartet. [I am] long treasuries, short stocks, short commodities and long the dollar."

Shilling on the U.S. economy:

"The story is that there is nothing else except consumers that can really hype the U.S. economy. Consumers have been on a mini spending spree in terms of not keeping up. Incomes have simply not kept up.  Of course, the real key behind that is employment. It looked earlier like jobs were picking up and that was going to provide the income and people would spend it, so on, so forth. But the employment report that we got last week throws cold water on that. Consumers have a lot of reasons to save as opposed to spend. They need to rebuild their assets, save for retirement. A lot of reasons suggest that they should be saving to work down debt as opposed to going the other way, which they have done in recent months. So if consumers retrench, there is not really anything else in the U.S. economy that can hold things up."

On whether investors will come back to the U.S. market if the situation in Europe gets worse:

"Sure, we are the best of the bad lot. We're the best horse in the glue factory. The U.S., it certainly looks better than China or Europe or certainly Japan. But, I'm not sure that that means that people go into stocks. Cash, although it does not pay anything, is an alternative. My 30-year favorite is long Treasury bonds; we're headed for 2.5% there. They have come down from 3.2 to 3.0 recently. Of course the 10-year now has broke 2% again.  I think there is still life there in terms of appreciation […]. I think that one and a half is possible on the 10-year. I have to tell you, all the way down, when I got interested in 30-year bonds in 1981, the yield was 15.21. All the way down in yields, all the way up in price, everyone has said, 'rates cannot go lower, they will go up, they will go up'. They have been saying that for 30 years."

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