Recovery Looks V-Shaped—at Least for Now

While economic recovery will be muted, global equities will likely go up 10% during the next 12 months, said Robert Buckland, managing director and chief global equity strategist at Citi.
Speaking at a press event hosted by Dow Jones Indexes today in New York City, Buckland said in 2010 he expects to see about 5% returns in U.S. markets, about 11% or 12% in European markets, and as high as 15% to 20% in emerging markets.

Buckland said he gets asked whether emerging markets are “just the next crazy bubble,” and he answers “potentially, but not yet.” He said emerging markets aren’t near the “mega-bubbles” produced by Japan in the 1980s and technology stocks in the 1990s.

Kevin Logan, independent global economist, predicts a GDP growth of about 3% to 3.5%. By the middle of this year, estimates for global GDP growth in 2010 are likely to be double what they were in the middle of 2009, according to Logan.

However, it looks like a hard road ahead. Although the GDP is expanding, it’s “not enough to bring down unemployment in any significant way,” Logan said.

Buckland noted that after a recession, the theory is that the GDP should grow faster, similar to how fast a ball bounces up after dropping on the floor. “We don’t really have that ball bouncing up much this year,” he said.

Yet the stock market is seeing some bounce, because companies have squeezed costs to create better profits. “Companies have been pretty brutal on costs,” Buckland said. The operational leverage could mean companies see profits grow as much as 65%, he added.

So, while contradictory, a muted GDP will see a V-shaped recovery in the markets, at least for the next year or two, according to Buckland.

“We are in the period towards the end of most global recessions when share prices rise even though profits are still falling. This twilight zone ends as the earnings recovery begins and this moment looks imminent,” said Buckland, in a statement. “In the market conditions, an aggressive pro-cyclical strategy tends to work best as global equities typically surge higher in the twilight zone and grind higher in the earnings recovery.”