Many experts hold dim views of the current state of the US economy—but what’s a prudent investor to do to make a profit? Find out what the blue-ribbon faculty of economists and investment pros at the recently concluded Casey Research Fall Summit thought.
Lacy Hunt, senior executive VP of Hoisington Investment Management Company and former chief economist at the Dallas Fed, says the main reason that the global economy continues to falter is that all countries borrow too much and save too little.
“275% total debt to GDP is the critical threshold. Every world economy of importance is above that level and moving higher.” He finds today’s monetary policy “impotent.” The Fed, Bank of England, and Bank of Japan are trying to solve the problem of too much debt by borrowing more, which has short-term benefits, but will be disastrous long term.
Too much borrowing, says Hunt, guarantees that we’ll get more asset bubbles. Because the United States is the least indebted of the three countries, it will continue to outperform Japan and Europe.
He predicts that the dollar will rise against other major currencies and that inflation, as well as interest rates, will remain low.
Christian Menegatti, managing director of economic research at Roubini Global Economics, is convinced that we’re at the end of a supercycle and won’t see a normalization of monetary policy for quite some time.
Like Lacy Hunt, Menegatti predicts that global interest rates will stay low. On the positive side, he doesn’t believe that we will see secular stagnation; in other words, a full “Japanification” of the US is unlikely.
The current economic recovery in the US is weaker than that in the 1930s, claims Worth Wray, chief strategist at Mauldin Economics. He says while nominal interest rates are the lowest they've ever been, real rates could go lower.
When the Fed’s QE3 is over, he predicts that growth will weaken and rates will fall further. “Without another dose of stimulus, the US will likely slide into recession.”
Taking a global view, he thinks that China’s slowdown could cause the Australian housing bubble to pop, and that commodity prices will drop over the next few years, which will hurt resource-rich countries like Australia, Norway, and Canada.
He recommends to buy US Treasuries and to diversify across asset classes that thrive in different economic environments to strengthen your portfolio against a possible crisis.
Diversification is also the number-one tip from the expert panel on “Building a Crisis-Proof Portfolio” at the Casey Summit, consisting of Worth Wray and Casey editors Alex Daley, Terry Coxon, Dan Steinhart, and Dennis Miller.
They say a crisis can take one of two forms:
- A “standard” crisis, where stocks crash but the financial system remains intact. In that scenario, you want to own US government bonds because they’ll retain their safe-haven properties.
- A “reset,” meaning a complete implosion of the global financial system. Government bonds won’t save you from that type of crisis. Instead, you’d want to own real, non-financial assets, such as physical gold and silver, as well as farmland and other real estate.
For “Future Tech You Can Profit from Now,” Alex Daley, chief technology investment strategist at Casey Research, suggests to look for companies that offer game-changing benefits or savings and that focus on “where businesses and people spend their time and money,” like OpenTable or Zillow ($Z).
Daley recommends three companies with great upside from his Casey Extraordinary Technology portfolio.
He says there’s no need to worry about the broader market if you can find great companies with consistent growth. “Look for 40% revenue growth over the same quarter last year; that’s the magic number.”
To get all of Alex Daley’s stock picks (and those of the other speakers), as well as every single presentation of the Summit, order your 26+-hour Summit Audio Collection now. It’s available in CD and/or MP3 format. Learn more here.