In a recent Investopedia article, The Ultimate Bull: Laszlo Birinyi's Bet on the S&P, long-time Wall Street veteran and frequent guest contributor for CNBC Laszlo Birinyi reiterated his bullish stance on the broad U.S. markets. This is so despite the fact that the blue chip indices have largely gone nowhere since the beginning of the year. Birinyi yet to back away from his forecast for the benchmark S&P 500 to hit 3,200 points by the end of 2017. The only question most everyone has is why?
It's a very fair inquiry. A significant portion of insiders believe that Birinyi has lost his mind, to put it kindly, I'm sure. That's saying a lot considering the inherently bullish nature of Wall Street analysts and brokers — does anyone want the gravy train to end, even if it's fundamentally flawed?
And yes, the fundamentals are severely flawed. China is experimenting with different monetary policy strategies to combat an economic slowdown. There are major geopolitical tensions exploding throughout the world. A shockingly few number of international markets show signs of confidence or stability. The idea that the U.S. can avoid the chaos seems on surface level to be the essence of naïveté.
On the other hand, Birinyi didn't get to where he is by being wrong all the time. He asserts that mass sentiment is hardly a reliable indicator of future market trajectory. In this particular case, if everyone holds to a bearish view, the markets will likely befuddle and continue to move higher. It's a classic contrarian argument — go where they ain't, or something to that effect. Birinyi also notes that he gauges technical analysts. If a majority believes in one view, he takes the opposite direction. Of course, Birinyi has a proprietary trading model that gives him further insight into the future.
Sadly, the trading model didn't accurately predict the collapse of the markets in 2008. He had pegged the S&P 500 to close 8,000 points higher than it did in December of that fteful year. Birinyi did correctly call the bottom of the 2008 collapse, but by then, so many investors had lost their retirement accounts that it practically didn't matter.
The point, though, is that none of Birinyi's bullish arguments bring anything new to the table. Contrarian trading? That's been around in one form or another since the early days of financial trading. Technical signals? Depending upon who the technician is, signals can be interpreted in any number of ways. And proprietary trading models? Seems like everyone has one, and they're useful until they're not vv– hardly the confidence boost upon which to bank your retirement.
In critical moments like these, it's better to let all market indicators — whether they be technical or fundamental in nature — take a backseat against common sense and logic. During the interim, the markets could jump higher — nothing really prevents that from happening. The issue is whether such a move is sustainable. Economies in real terms are faltering. This isn't a time to gamble everything based on the fine details.
The bigger picture speaks volumes for itself.