In an opinion piece for Bloomberg, Jared Dillian writes that the niche of investment research he calls “macro doom” has become quite popular of late, with everyone predicting a bust on the near horizon. From inflation to commodities prices, the high price of oil and agricultural shortages, there is always something for this group to be concerned about.
Dillian writes that he’s “sympathetic to these views,” and points to the possibility of a shortage in the agricultural industry as rising fertilizer prices would cause farmers to use less fertilizer, which will in turn result in lower crop yields. But many predictions from the macro doom crowd are too extreme to take seriously, Dillian contends, such as the “dollar-bull-deflation-doom” theory that posits the rising dollar will lead to deflation and falling bond yields—a theory that rising inflation should discredit.
But the economy isn’t accident-prone; something people should have learned from the pandemic but haven’t. Rather, the economy is “accident-resistant,” Dillian writes, noting that in the last century there have only been 4 major bear markets. Wall Street generally understands why the stock market crashes, but has no understanding of why it doesn’t. Of course, bearish talk is always more attractive than bullish arguments, luring in newer investors who then have a difficult time implementing bearish strategies. A better strategy than thinking something bad is always going to happen is to be inherently skeptical, Dillian maintains, and to acknowledge that there is an imbalance in the market that will eventually correct. “Being skeptical, rather than bearish, keeps you out of trouble,” Dillian writes.
However, being constantly bullish isn’t much smarter. While stocks do, generally, go up over time, there’s no rule that they must go up, and holding onto a stock simply because you bullishly believe it will go up doesn’t guarantee returns. By maintaining “a healthy dose of skepticism” when it comes to risk in your portfolio could position you better for future gains.
Still, it might be worth lending a little bit of credence to the macro doom cohort, if only to gather opinions that challenge the status quo. And indeed, it’s certainly been true that some “great trades usually start with some crazy person tweeting into the void,” Dillian writes.