Today's final revision of first quarter GDP came in at a shocking minus 2.9%. We knew the number would be revised lower, but the consensus estimate had it at -1.7%. While I generally hate going with the consensus, I am in the camp that dismisses Q1 GDP as a largely weather-driven (although there was a surprising decline in healthcare spending) anomaly.
I've reported recently that, on balance, key indicators are pointing to an acceleration in economic growth going forward---which the bulls believe will keep the stock market chugging higher, a lot higher, into the foreseeable future. While I am indeed a long-term bull (all long-term investors are long-term bulls btw), I would color today's economy and the stock market a shade differently.
Last year was stellar for stocks, but not for the economy. I listened to an analyst this morning who claims that the correlation between the S&P 500 and GDP is zero. And while I suspect---when you chart year-by-year stock results along side GDP---he's correct (analysts don't throw that stuff out on CNBC without having viewed the data first), his underlying assumption seemed to be that there's no relationship between stock market performance and economic growth. If that was indeed his point (probably wasn't, but that's how he left it), he's dead wrong. You see, financial markets anticipate. And last year, stocks were clearly anticipating a pickup in economic growth. And, yes, we're now beginning to see it. And herein lies my point: this year's (Q1 notwithstanding) pickup in growth merely validates last year's market---which is wonderful. It in no way, however, assures like results going forward.
For this market to continue higher, earnings will have to catch up a bit to share prices. Not that, overall, the market is expensive at this juncture, it's just not nearly cheap like it was in 2013. To become that attractive again, without a bear market, the E in the P/E will have to accelerate faster than the P. And that's the stuff of future commentaries.
Beyond whatever goes on in the near-term, I remain bullish on the human condition, and, yes (and again), the capital markets, in the long-term. You'll understand why after you view the video series I'll be posting soon...