New Normal? Don't Count on It, Says Farrell

Since the financial crisis hit last fall, one of the most-used terms popping up in stock market and economic parlance has been “the new normal”. Often attributed to PIMCO’s Bill Gross, the term is used to describe the slower-growth, lower-return environment that many say will confront investors in the coming post-overleveraging period.

But are we indeed heading for a “new normal”? And is “the new normal” really a new idea? No on both counts, says MarketWatch’s Paul Farrell.

‘Warning, you’re being misled (again),” Farrell writes. “Big time. We wrote about the same ‘New Normal’ baloney back in 2002. Back then it was Warren Buffett and Jack Bogle: Two big-shot investors, bigger than Gross and Pimco. And yet, if you had relied on Buffett-Bogle’s ‘New Normal’ hype back then you’d have missed the profitable early upswings of the 2003-07 bull market.”

Farrell says the “new normal” described by Gross is misleading, biased conjecture that is getting eaten up by the media. He offers eight reasons why the future will not involve a gloomy new normal. Those reasons focus on a couple main notions — that we’ve heard about “new normals” before, and they didn’t come to fruition; that studies show supposed “experts” like Gross aren’t likely to be accurate in their forecasts; and that the media plays up catchy concepts like “the new normal” without real justification.

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