Kenneth Fisher says investors’ short memories are causing them to fall prey to overblown fears about the economy and stock market, and says he thinks stocks will make some nice gains between now and the end of the year.
“Last year we were fixated on Congress with health care and Dodd-Frank concerns — and PIIGS contagion and double-dip recession fears,” Fisher writes in his latest Forbes column. “Not much has changed. Add to the list the after-shock of the congressional debt ceiling battle and the debt downgrade. None of this will amount to a hill of beans except to swing sentiment and incite panic. It’s relevant for traders but not for long-term investors.”
Fisher puts some of the blame on pundits, most of whom “act like chittering chimpanzees without memories,” he says. “They tend to be fact-free but ever noisy and opinionated! Look at the evidence. We have so far made it through Meredith Whitney’s muni bond Armageddon, the debt ceiling crisis, the S&P downgrade and fears of government interference. Meanwhile, the long bond keeps rising in price, defying debt-doomers. How many times can we replay pointless little PIIGies fears?”
As for fears that weak recent growth is a precursor to another recession, Fisher objects. He says history shows that all expansions have quarters in which growth slows (or is weak, like last quarter). “Multiple quarters of slowing growth always happen and have never been predictive, with any consistency, of recession,” he writes. “Investors never seem to learn, but the best policy is to ignore the chatter and buy strong stocks, ones that are cheap and that should gain as sentiment improves.” He offers a handful of picks, including toy-maker Hasbro.