Editor’s pick: Originally published Jan. 7.
Who could have predicted that the markets would be in such turmoil in the first few days of 2016? Well, we don't mean to brag, but you read it here first.
The stock market tumbled on Thursday, the sixth consecutive trading day of declines as the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed more than 2%, or almost 400 points, on Thursday. Investors were once again spooked by China's troubles, among other things.
Earlier in the day, China's Shanghai Composite plunged more than 7% before triggering circuit breakers to halt trading -- the second time that's happened in in four days. China's currency, the yuan, continued to plummet suggesting that the government's attempts to prevent a market meltdown weren't working. Fears of a slowdown in the world's second largest economy has investors on their toes.
Meanwhile oil reached a new low early Thursday, while market observers pushed back their expectations of another interest rate hike to June at the earliest after the Federal Reserve's minutes from its December meeting conveyed a more hesitant central bank.
In the first four trading days of 2016, the S&P 500 is down almost 5%.
Several market experts for TheStreet, Real Money and RealMoney Pro, TheStreet's sister sites, called the turmoil in the markets and in China, something few were expecting so early in the year. Here's what they had to say:
Make Way for a Recession
"The current U.S. expansion is now more than 70 months old, one of the longest in history," he wrote in his annual list of surprises for 2016 back on Dec. 29. "There have been six recessions since 1971, and the S&P 500's average drop during them is 36%. I predict 2016 will see the seventh recession in the last 45 years, with stocks experiencing a 20% decline."
His forecast came after reasoning that too much debt, too little growth, fiscal-policy "paralysis," as well as a "'spent" Federal Reserve and limited capital spending (which adversely impacts productivity) weigh down stocks in 2016," Kass wrote. "So do crony capitalism, geopolitical instability a further narrowing of market leadership and a further technical breakdown."
"In other words, I don't think 2016 will be fun," he stated. "I think investing will prove unprofitable for many -- more so than in any year since 2008."
Moreover, Kass is worried about China, telling TheStreet on Thursday that "the Chinese markets are over-leveraged, and after losing real estate/construction as an engine of growth, the government is devaluing China's currency in an attempt to resuscitate domestic economic growth."
"Meanwhile, I've consistently argued that China's stock markets are much more broken than America's. Perhaps that's why the Chinese markets' circuit breakers -- which shut off trading early today for the second time this week -- are having the opposite effect of what the authorities intended."
"Unfortunately, China's potential to 'export' risk through capital flight and a devalued Chinese currency (one of the 'surprises' I predicted for 2015) and could cause problems for Western markets as investors lose faith and unwind long positions."
Will the Dow Fall to 14,000?
Bruce Kamich, TheStreet's in-house technical analyst who's one of the first Chartered Market Technicians, predicted in early December that the markets would retreat in 2016, an event that would last the first half of the year.
"We are making fewer new 52-week highs," Kamich, who has 40 years of experience working for a number of bulge bracket firms, said in a December 10 post on Real Money. "I find fewer and fewer compelling long ideas and plenty of other names that are rolling over again. The pattern of trading has changed from buying the lower opening to selling the higher opening -- a subtle shift that speaks volumes."
Kamich furthered his theory in a technical post on Thursday when he said that the Dow could fall to 14,000 by mid-2016.
The Bull Is Dead
That's what Ken Goldberg, chief market strategist at DSEtrading.com and TradeWithWaves.com and a 30-year investment veteran, who has trained thousands of active investors and day-traders, wrote on Tuesday in a technical analysis of the markets for TheStreet.
Here's a snippet of his Jan. 5 article: "The real story is being told in the 'people's index.' That is, the Russell 2000, which is what most individual's portfolios better reflect than the Dow or S&P 500. If you ask the secondaries, their peaks in June likely are their final highs of their bull markets that began at the 2009 low, if not well before that."
He also said: "Coupled with weakening technical indicators, such as these stochastics in free fall (with a long way to go before becoming oversold), a neckline of a possible head and shoulders topping pattern about to be broken below (which will catalyze this technical sell signal), and the implosion taking place in the FANG and other high cap, momentum, hedge fund favorites, the stage has finally been vacated by the proverbial fat lady, and 'it' is now over; the bull market, that is."
One Who Got It Wrong
As evidence of how unexpected China's market turmoil has been, in an article in the Atlantic published just this past Monday on expert's predictions for the global economy, Barry J. Eichengreen, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley forecast that "unlike 2015, when investors were fixated on instability in Chinese markets and the bungled devaluation of the renminbi, in 2016 they will realize that the situation in China is under control and the real problems are elsewhere."
It didn't take long for that prediction to be proven wrong, did it?