Is A Major Stock Market Correction Lurking? This Indicator Suggests Yes!

Atle Willems, CFA profile picture
Atle Willems, CFA


  • Both current stock market valuations and economic developments determine future stock market returns.
  • Combining measures of both, an overall stock market risk indicator is developed.
  • Today, the stock market risk indicator suggests a major stock market correction is lurking and that future stock market returns will be poor at best.

More than a decade ago, Mark Thornton wrote an interesting article in the aftermath of the 2000 stock market bubble. The article was titled Who Predicted the Bubble? Who Predicted the Crash? and discussed exactly what the title implies. Thornton concluded that there were, in general, two groups of correct predictors. The first group based their predictions on equity valuations such as the cyclically adjusted P/E ratio (CAPE) employed by Professor Shiller. The second group came from outside the mainstream economics profession, most notably members of the Austrian school of economics whom based their predictions on economic developments, especially monetary developments.

As a value investor for more than 20 years and inspired by Thornton's article, I developed a rather simple stock market risk indicator for the U.S. stock market based on insights from both value investing and the Austrian school. This indicator includes stock market valuations and economic developments from six individual components which are then weighted and compiled into one aggregate.

The components include the level of interest rates, changes in the money supply, developments in consumers' time preferences by comparing changing patterns in spending vs. saving, Shiller's CAPE ratio, changes in the Chicago Fed National Financial Conditions Index, and stock market prices relative to the level of savings. The higher the combined reading, the greater the risk for a stock market correction. Conversely, the lower the reading, the better the prospects for high future returns. In essence, the higher stock market prices are relative to earnings and savings following a longer period of low interest rates and rapid expansion of the money supply, the greater the probability of an economic reaction and stock market correction.

Though the indicator is not developed for market timing purposes, it correctly identified the previous two stock market bubbles that peaked in 2000 and

This article was written by

Atle Willems, CFA profile picture
Atle Willems, author of "Money Cycles", is an analyst with Liabridge Economic Research. He holds a masters degree in finance with distinction from Nottingham University Business School and a BSc in Business Administration from Drake University.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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