The possibility that the Federal Reserve will start raising interest rates
for the first time in 11 years has spurred a debate among Wall Street strategists on whether stocks or bonds will suffer the most.
Bond prices move in the opposite direction of rates, making debt vulnerable to Fed tightening. But stocks may also suffer short-term losses as investors shift money out of equities and into higher-yielding bonds.
John Hussman, president of Hussman Investment Trust, said his analysis suggests stocks aren’t cheap compared with bonds. The contrast is more notable when looking at 10-year prospective returns.
“Despite a yield to maturity of hardly more than 2 percent annually, Treasury bonds are still likely to outperform the total return of the S&P 500 over the coming decade,” he said in a weekly market commentary
. “We estimate that from current valuations, the S&P 500 will underperform Treasury bonds by more than 2 percent annually over the coming decade.”
He said a significant stock-market decline would herald a better time to get into equities, consistent with his value-investing philosophy.
“Look at bear market lows such as 2009, 2002, 1990, 1987, 1982, 1978 and 1974, and recognize that the completion of every market cycle in history has provided better investment opportunities, both in absolute terms, and relative to bonds, than are presently available,” he said. “Frankly, history suggests that a rather ordinary completion to the present market cycle would involve the S&P 500 losing more than half of its value.”
Meanwhile, David Rosenberg, chief strategist at Gluskin Sheff & Associates Inc., compares stock and bond yields to show that equities aren’t overly vulnerable to a rate hike by the Federal Reserve.
He said the typical investment-grade bond yield is 5 percent, but it usually reaches 8 percent to 9 percent when the Fed begins hiking rates. The ratio of the S&P 500’s expected yield for the next 12 months to bond yields is 1.12 times, compared with 0.75 to 0.85 times when the central bank usually begins a rate-increase cycle.
“So the S&P 500, when benchmarked against market yields, is arguably 20 percent to 30 percent less expensive today as the Fed launches the first rate hike,” Rosenberg said in a June 8 report
obtained by Newsmax Finance. “I realize that is not conventional wisdom. So be it.”
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