Farrell Calls a Bottom (and Rips "Dr. Doom")

In his latest MarketWatch column, Paul Farrell takes Nouriel “Dr. Doom” Roubini to task — and gives six reasons why he thinks the stock market has bottomed.

Roubini, the New York University professor who predicted the financial crisis and has said he’ll be the first to call the recovery, “may go down in history … as the designated ‘one-hit wonder’,” Farrell writes. “But worse, any investor waiting for a Roubini ‘call’ is playing Russian roulette, a loser’s game … you will miss the market’s real turning point.”

A quick look at Farrell’s six reasons for calling a bottom and declaring a new bull market:

  • Stocks recover before the economy does: Economists often call downturns before “notoriously optimistic” Wall Street pundits, but on the way back up, the opposite is usually true, writes Farrell. “A stock market bottom and new bull may occur six months before the economists call the ending of a recession and an economic recovery,” he writes. “So Dr. Doom’s ‘call’ will naturally come months after the stock market in fact turns.”
  • Stocks make big money fast then go to sleep: Citing the work of Javier Estrada, a finance professor at IESE Business School in Spain, Farrell says that two-thirds of the cumulative gains produced by the Dow Jones Industrial Average since 1900 occurred on the ten best days.
  • No one can predict the next big move: Here Farrell cites Wharton Professor Jeremy Siegel. Siegel studied all the major market moves between 1801 and 2001, and concluded that 75% of the time there was no rational explanation for big moves up in stock prices or big moves down.
  • Famous media-darling pundits inevitably flameout: In today’s era of fast-paced cable news, experts don’t have to be right most of the time — they just have to be entertaining, Farrell says. He notes that University of California-Berkeley Professor Philip Tetlock’s extensive study on “experts” found that good predictive ability had little to do with expert status; in fact, the study found that the more famous a prognosticator, the worse he or she tended to do.
  • Even the best economists make huge errors: And, Farrell says, those errors can sometimes be the result of economists being biased by political agendas.
  • Will the real Dr. Doom please stand up?: Farrell notes that despite his moniker, Roubini’s prediction of financial system doom was preceded by similar calls from many others, including Bill Gross, Richard Bookstaber, and Jeremy Grantham. “He was not ahead of the competition with his December 2007 recession call,” writes Farrell. “So if you’re one of America’s 95 million investors waiting for Roubini to call a bottom before getting back in the market, you’ll miss the real turning point.”

For his part, Farrell also offers a bit of doom & gloom in his bottom-call: “This next bull will be short. First, it will suck money out of the mattresses of investors who are sitting on cash. Then Wall Street will recreate the insanity of the ’90’s dot-coms and the recent subprime-credit mania. But underneath it all, Wall Street’s bulls will be setting the stage for yet another catastrophic bubble and meltdown.”

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