Putting Pullbacks in Perspective

Market pullbacks can be unnerving. That is why investors should make a plan with their financial advisors that addresses pullbacks and is informed by historical perspective, not emotion.

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Pullbacks & Bouncebacks

We can gain important perspective on market pullbacks by considering post- World War II declines in the S&P 500® Index. The majority of declines fall within the 5-10 percent range with an average recovery time of approximately one month, while declines between 10-20 percent have an average recovery period of approximately three months. Pullbacks within these ranges are not uncommon, occurring frequently during the normal market cycle. While they can be emotionally unnerving, they will not generally undermine a well-diversified portfolio and are not necessarily signals for panic. Even more severe pullbacks of 20-40 percent registered an average recovery period of only 15 months.


The Deeper the Stock Market Decline, the Longer the Recovery1
Declines in the S&P 500® (Since 12.31.1945)¹

Decline % Number of Declines Average Decline % Average Length of Decline in Months Average Time to Recover in Months
5-10 77 (6) 1 1
10-20 27 (13) 4 3
20-40 8 (27) 11 15
40+ 3 (51) 22 58

In contrast, pullbacks of 40 percent or more, while occurring much less frequently, post an average recovery time of 58 months and can potentially compromise an investor’s financial plan. Pullbacks above 20 percent (including all pullbacks above 40 percent), that have registered the longest recovery periods have been associated with economic recessions. When evaluating a market pullback, the probability of a recession is a key insight to consider when determining whether or not to reduce equity exposure.

While recessions are readily identifiable in hindsight, prospectively they can be difficult to spot. This makes access to reliable market analysis all the more important when determining the probability of a recession.

Where Are We Now?

Guggenheim Investments provides its view of the current market environment (as of 4.2018)

As we enter the ninth year of the current expansion, one of the most important new developments to evaluate is the impact of the corporate tax cuts passed into law at the end of 2017. Our concern is that the substantial late-cycle fiscal easing in the pipeline will prompt more restrictive monetary policy, which increases the risk that the economy will experience a boom-bust cycle that ends in a recession.

With the unemployment rate at 3.9 percent and core inflation rising, fiscal policy should be leaning against the economy to prevent overheating, not providing further stimulus. Faster wage growth, rising core inflation, and an unsustainably low unemployment rate underpin our longstanding view that the Fed will raise interest rates four times in 2018. Fed funds futures show the market is now pricing in more than three rate hikes for 2018, up from two at the beginning of the year, which contributed to a pickup in first-quarter market volatility.

Tighter fiscal and monetary policy, along with rising policy uncertainty ahead of the 2018 mid-terms and 2020 presidential election, will likely prove to be too much for an overextended economy to bear. Our recession probability model and recession dashboard continue to point to the next downturn beginning sometime in late 2019 through mid-2020. Recent developments in fiscal policy, the labor market, and the neutral interest rate suggest that the expansion could extend into the latter half of our recession range.

Further complicating the story is the risk of a global trade war sparked by protectionist actions taken by the Trump administration. We now have new steel and aluminum tariffs in place that are likely to have some modest inflationary impact while hurting almost 20 percent of U.S. corporates, according to our estimates. We expect more protectionist trade and investment policies in place by year end.

Markets are right to be nervous about a steeper hiking path than previously anticipated—with more hikes happening sooner than expected—as tighter monetary policy will sow the seeds of the next recession. While fiscal policy will boost GDP growth in 2018 and 2019, by 2020 the fiscal impulse will fade, turning instead to a modest drag on growth. As the Fed continues to raise rates every quarter, the bear flattening yield curve will likely invert as yields at the front end rise more rapidly than those at the long end.

Guggenheim’s Recession Dashboard and Recession Probability Model Point to the Next Recession in Late 2019 or 2020

The business cycle is one of the most important drivers of investment performance. It is therefore critical for investors to have a well-informed view on the business cycle so portfolio allocations can be adjusted accordingly. At this stage, with the current U.S. expansion showing signs of aging, our focus is on projecting the timing of the next downturn.

Guggenheim has developed several tools to guide this effort. The last several expansions have shown similar patterns leading up to a recession. We have created a Recession Dashboard of six indicators that have exhibited consistent cyclical behavior, and that can be tracked relatively well in real time. These six indicators include a measure of the unemployment gap, the stance of monetary policy, the shape of the yield curve, the Leading Economic Index, changes in aggregate weekly hours worked, and changes in consumer spending. In addition to our dashboard of recession indicators, we have also developed an integrated Recession Probability Model that attempts to predict the probability of a recession over six-, 12-, and 24-month horizons. Our methodology is explained in greater detail on our Forecasting the Next Recession page on www.guggenheiminvestments.com.1

Taken together, our Recession Dashboard and our proprietary Recession Probability Model, point to the next recession beginning in late 2019 to mid-2020. Recent developments in fiscal policy, the labor market, and the neutral interest rate suggest that the expansion could extend into the latter half of our recession range.

Naturally, there are substantial risks that our recession date could be too early or too late. Nevertheless, we believe that successful investing requires a roadmap, as with any other endeavor. Our investment team uses this roadmap to help guide our portfolio management decisions, in order to seek superior risk-adjusted performance over time and across cycles.

Near-Term Recession Risk Is Low, but Longer-Term Risks Are Rising2

Model-Based Recession Probability

Longer Bull Markets Lead to Larger Corrections

Interval Since Last Non-Recessionary Pullback

While there is a relationship between the days since the end of the last correction and the magnitude of pullback, as shown in the following chart, the majority of pullbacks during non-recessionary periods registered declines under 20 percent. As we discussed earlier, pullbacks falling within the 5–20 percent range historically experience recovery periods of one to four months. These are not periods typically associated with severe economic deterioration, and do not necessarily represent a signal to reduce equity exposure. As of the date of this analysis (4.19.2018), there had been 70 days since a non-recessionary market pullback of greater than 10 percent.

Ex Recession S&P 500 Corrections (>10% Decline)3

Since 1962

Longer Bull Markets Lead to Larger Corrections

Putting Pullbacks in Perspective

Pullbacks are often not a time to panic and should rather be used as a reason to analyze and assess. Under certain circumstances, it may even be the case that a pullback represents an attractive buying opportunity for certain portfolios. The benefit of gaining reliable market and economic perspective is essential in preparing for market pullbacks. Rather than act on emotion, it’s important to put these events in context to determine what they mean.

Working with your financial advisor, you may then better assess any potential impact on your portfolio and implement a proper course of action, if any is necessary, that is in line with your investment objectives.

To learn more, speak to your financial advisor, who has access to Guggenheim Investments’ timely insights and thought leadership.


1 Copyright 2018 Ned Davis Research, Inc. Further distribution prohibited without prior permission. All Rights Reserved. See NDR Disclaimer at www.ndr.com/copyright.html. For data vendor disclaimers, refer to www.ndr.com/vendorinfo.
2 Hypothetical Illustration. The Recession Probability Model is a new model with no prior history of forecasting recessions. Its future accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Actual results may vary significantly from the results shown. This illustration is not representative of any Guggenheim Investments product. Source: Haver Analytics, Bloomberg, Guggenheim Investments. Data as of 12.31.2017. Shaded areas represent periods of recession.
3 Source: Guggenheim Investments. Data as of 4.19.2018

Any overviews herein are intended to be general in nature and do not constitute investment, tax, or legal advice.

This information is subject to change at any time, based on market and other conditions, and should not be construed as a recommendation of any specific security or strategy. There can be no assurance that any investment product will achieve its investment objective(s). There are risks associated with investing, including the entire loss of principal invested. Investing involves market risk. The investment return and principal value of any investment product will fluctuate with changes in market conditions.

Guggenheim Investments represents the investment management businesses of Guggenheim Partners, LLC. Securities offered through Guggenheim Funds Distributors, LLC. Guggenheim Funds Distributors, LLC is affiliated with Guggenheim Partners, LLC.

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