I hope everyone had a marvelous Thanksgiving feast that was multiples better than the fare the NFL served up yesterday (for the most part).
Tuesday we started discussing the main concerns investors should have for the markets in the New Year. That column covered the continuing global impact of the collapse of energy and commodity prices, which I think the market is largely ignoring at its peril.
Today I will talk about my second big worry for 2016: the dollar will continue to strengthen as the Federal Reservefinally hikes interest rates and worldwide growth continues to be anemic.
Investors have already felt the effects of a strong dollar as earnings and revenues continue to take hits due the strengthening greenback. This is one key reason profits in the S&P 500 (SPY) - Get Report will be down year over year in 2015 for the first time since emerging from the financial crisis. Unfortunately, I think King Dollar is a theme that continues to play out in 2016.
It is hard to see the other major central banks hiking interest rates through at least the first half of 2016, if not for the entire year. The European and Japanese central banks will continue to pump liquidity into their flailing economies. Even as we limped along in the weakest post-war recovery on record, we still look like the best house in the bad neighborhood. This leaves the dollar one way to go against major currencies and that is up.
The other impact to earnings and revenues in 2016 is the moribund global economy, which is at its weakest levels since 2009. Two of our three largest trading partners, Canada and Mexico, will continue see economic weakness due low oil and commodity prices. It is hard to see much growth, barring a substantial rally in the energy and commodity complexes from major emerging markets like Brazil, Argentina and Russia in 2016 either.
Japan is currently in a minor recession, even with the massive liquidity supplied by its central bank. Major reforms, which were supposed to be the "third arrow" of Abenomics and aimed at boosting long-term growth, have been strenuously resisted and remain largely unimplemented.
It is basically the same story in Europe -- significant labor and structural reforms are needed as anti-austerity parties have come to power in Greece and Portugal and the continent is currently focused on the largest migration wave since World War II and as terrorist attacks escalate. The time the European Central Bank is buying the eurozone's politicians to take measures to boost growth will largely be wasted. One could say the same thing from the seven years of the extraordinary measures taken by the Federal Reserve.
China is the big wild card to global growth at the moment. Growth in the Middle Kingdom has certainly decelerated over the past few years. I don't believe anyone has a good handle on how fast China is currently growing, but one must take the 7% official GDP target with a large grain of salt.
Simply put, it is hard to see worldwide growth coming in much above the anemic levels we have seen this year in 2016. The dollar should also continue to rise, which, combined, will make any sort of revenue and profit growth once again very difficult for a large part of the market.
Monday we will profile a couple of companies that should continue to be able to navigate this difficult global backdrop and whose stocks are still attractively priced.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on Real Money Pro at 10 a.m. on Nov. 27.