As BofA's Michael Harnett reminds us, on Thursday, April 28th, the US equity "bull market" becomes second longest ever. Next Thursday the current bull market will be 2607 days old, exceeding the bull market of June 1949 to August 1956 by one day; the longest bull market ever was October 1990 to March 2000 (3452 days). The following chart shows the evolution of the three Great Bull Markets.
Here are three point from Hartnett for those curious what may come next.
The Path from No. 2 to No. 1
- First, the last years of the longest ever equity bull market (i.e. the late-90s) were marked by cross-asset volatility and a bubble; that remains a plausible risk scenario.
- Second, this bull market is trading more like the mid-50s bull market which slowly exhausted itself and then reversed for a year or two as the investment cycle moved to “overheating” in 1956-57 and then brief “recession” in 1956-57. Note how asset markets have struggled to produce upside since the era of excess liquidity came to an end and/or illustrates how low expected returns of bills, bonds, equities, and indeed all risk assets have become thanks to “financial repression”. The total return from a portfolio of equities, bonds, commodities, cash split percentage-wise 50/35/10/5 from the secular lows of 2009 to the end of QE3 in October 2014 of an investment of $100 would have grown to $198. Since the end of QE3 the same portfolio would have fallen 3.4% to a value of $192. Note this also shows a diminishing “wealth effect” for the economy, another reason to be long Main Street, short Wall Street.
- Third, another factor behind the fatigue is earnings, which as the following chart shows, have also faded in recent quarters (even excluding the energy sector). Our shift in recent years from “raging bull” to “sitting bull” to “volatility bull” reflects low probability of the Higher EPS & Lower Rates in coming quarters.