The U.S. stock market has rocketed off its lows, and Goldman Sachs dubiously predicts it won’t test them again.
The investment bank, which has nearly $1.3 trillion in assets under management, says unprecedented public sector support and the decreasing coronavirus infection rate catalyzed an ironclad recovery.
Yet while the Fed can launch one bazooka after another, it’s foolish to assume the coronavirus outbreak has reached a permanent inflection point. The stock market and the economy could continue to bleed until the pandemic no longer poses a threat.
In a dramatic turn of events, Goldman Sachs chief equity strategist David Kostin predicted that the S&P 500 wouldn’t hit a new bottom below its current 2020 low of 2,191.90.
Just one month ago, Kostin had warned that the bellwether index could plummet to 2,000 as the novel coronavirus rocked the U.S. economy.
The coronavirus has created unprecedented financial and societal disruption. Equities are a leading indicator because a bear market has occurred without the release of any relevant earnings or macro data… A combination of tools suggests the S&P 500 could trough around 2000.
Kostin is retracting that forecast. He praises the swift decisions of policymakers , including the $2 trillion stimulus plan that he says prevented an economic meltdown.
The Fed and Congress have precluded the prospect of a complete economic collapse… These policy actions mean our previous near-term downside of 2,000 is no longer likely for the S&P 500 Index.
But all of this hinges on one thing. That there isn’t a second wave of coronavirus infections after economic lockdowns end.
While social distancing measures are curbing the spread of the virus, saying that it won’t reemerge is downright silly unless someone develops a vaccine.
The U.S. remains the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic with over 560,000 cases . And the data suggest that the pandemic won’t be over any time soon.
For Goldman’s bottom prediction to stick, the U.S. economy must return to full swing without interruptions. Should we see a spike of coronavirus cases, it is very likely that the stock market will crater.
Morgan Stanley offers a sobering forecast regarding the path to recovery. The investment bank said,
The US outbreak is far from over. Recovering from this acute period in the outbreak is just the beginning and not the end.
Without a vaccine, the U.S. economic downturn could persist – along with the bear market in equities. Matthew Harrison, the head of biotech research at Morgan Stanley, wrote,
Investors cannot afford to lose sight of the fact that only a vaccine will provide a true solution to this pandemic.
Goldman may be right that Congress and the Fed are ready to dig deep to keep the economy from collapsing. But it’s ridiculously foolish to bet that the stock market has bottomed based exclusively on hopes that there won’t be a second wave of infections.