Prepare For A Deep Recession And Bear Market

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Includes: AAPL, AMZN, BA, DIA, FB, GLD, GOOG, IWM, MSFT, QQQ, SPY
by: Michael Bryant
Summary

The coming recession and bear market, while likely deep, probably would not be as bad as the Credit Crisis.

And yes, we definitely will have a recession soon.

It seems the most likely start of a bear market is June 2019 with a recession in early 2020.

Well, I did warn you, indirectly at least. On November 2, 2017, I wrote an article titled "Beware 2-2.5%, Credit Ratings, And Debt." I hinted that a stock market peak could happen when the Fed Funds rate was about 2.0-2.5%, thinking that could be when the 30-year treasury meets the Fed Funds rate, triggering an inversion. The Fed Funds rate hit 2.0-2.5% in September 2018. And we got an inversion, just not the 30-year yet. The 5-year treasury is now inverted with 3-year, 2-year, and 1-year treasury. With inversion fears, the Dow (DIA), S&P 500 (SPY), NASDAQ (QQQ), and Russell 2000 (IWM) peaked on October 3, September 20, August 29, and August 31 respectively and fell 18.77%, 19.78%, 23.64%, and 27.22% before staging a Santa Claus rally which lasted till mid-January. The bull market tied the longest since World War II at 113 months at the end of July 2018. Is a recession and bear market coming? What do the inversions say? Will Fed easing prevent a recession? What is the correlation between market peaks and recessions? How could the shutdown hurt the market? And do stock valuations support a plunge?

About Each Index

  • The Dow is a price-weighted index of the 30 most important companies to the U.S. economy chosen by the editors of the Wall Street Journal. This means that a stock with a higher price would influence the index more. Currently, Boeing (BA) at $364.73/share has the most influence on the index, compromising nearly 10% as of August 1, 2018. From October 3 to December 24, the stock fell 25.02%, while the index is down 18.77% in the same period. Since then, the stock is up 23.99%, while the index is up 13.37%.
  • The S&P 500 is a market capitalization-weighted index composed of the 500 largest U.S. companies, "covers about 80% of the American equity market by capitalization," and serves as a benchmark for the economy. This means that a stock with a higher market capitalization would influence the index more. As of December 31, 2018, the S&P 500 had a market cap of $22,065.655 billion. Currently, Amazon (AMZN), Microsoft (MSFT), Google (GOOG), and Apple (AAPL) at $829.39 billion, $826.94 billion, $766.84 billion, and $741.73 billion market cap respectively have the most influence on the index, each compromising 3.76%, 3.75%, 3.48%, and 3.36% respectively. That is a big difference from July 5, 2018, where the top four companies were Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Facebook (FB). From September 20 to December 24, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Facebook fell 33.27%, 30.88%, 29.74%, 21.96%, and 25.27% respectively while the index fell 19.78% in the same period. Since then, Amazon, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Apple are up 26.21%, 20.94%, 18.57%, 14.43%, and 6.80% respectively, while the index is up 13.59%.
  • The NASDAQ is a market capitalization-weighted index composed of about 3,400 mainly U.S. technology and biotech stocks. Currently, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Apple also have the most influence on the index. From August 29 to December 24, Apple, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft fell 34.15%, 32.74%, 25.86%, and 15.97% respectively, while the index fell 23.64% in the same period. The index is up 15.57% since then.
  • The Russell 2000 is a market capitalization-weighted index composed of about 2,000 small-cap stocks and serves as a benchmark for U.S. small-caps. It is also seen as a "barometer for confidence in American growth," because it is made up of companies that "do little business overseas, making them highly exposed to swings in the domestic economy." From August 31 to December 24, the index fell 27.22%, but it is up 17.02% since then.

What Do The Technicals Tell Us?

Source: Stockcharts.com

The left side of the image above is the 5-year graph, while the right side is the 1-year graph. In the 5-year graph, the Dow formed a double bottom with a target of 21,200 by July 2017, which it did hit. The Dow then formed a bearish ascending triangle with a target of 21,400 by June 2019. The W%R is -2.08 (extremely overbought), and the RSI is 61.45 (getting close to overbought). However, in five of the six times the RSI and W%R were at similar levels from 2014-2017, the index rose. Two of the times were in late 2015 and early 2016, which is when I noted that the fall seemed "largely due to worry about a Chinese slowdown." The recent pullback also correlated with worry about a Chinese slowdown. In the 1-year graph, the Dow formed a bearish triple top, with a target of 22,200 by February 2019. Note that the index fell slightly below the 200-dma three times in the past year and bounced back. The Dow also always bounced back above the 200-dma when falling slightly below it in the 5-year graph, except in the 2015 and 2016 corrections, where the index fell 10.97% and 10.73%. After the rally, the Dow is down 7.91% from its high.

Source: Dow 100-year Historical Chart

In the log scale of the 100-year graph of the Dow above, the grey shaded areas are recessions. The graph shows that the index bounced down from the long-term resistance line to the green support line and then up to 24,706.35. If the Dow breaks below the green support line, the next support line is shown in purple. The final support line, meaning I do not expect the Dow to fall below that line, is shown in black. As of January 22, 2019, the long-term resistance line is 27,934.03; the green support line is 21,255.19; the purple support line is 19,592.47; and the final support line is 13,424.76. The 2007 peak was 13,930.01, which is slightly above the final support line. Inflation-adjusted, the 2007 peak was 16,799.59, which is about halfway between the purple support line and the final support line.

The index seems to follow a super cycle where it oscillated from October 1915 - April 1942 (about 26.5 years), steadily rose for about 23.7 years, oscillated from December 1965 - October 1982 (about 16.8 years), steadily rose for about 17.2 years, oscillated from December 1999 - October 2010 (about 10.8 years), and steadily rose for about 8.3 years. Based on the super cycle, the index could be close to a period of oscillation. Assuming the index falls from the resistance line to either the purple or black support line, the index could have a repeat of the 1999 bubble burst, which lasted about 2.8 years, or the 1929 crash, which also lasted 2.8 years. Assuming a pullback from the peak lasting 2.8 years, the bottom would be about August 2, 2021, at about 22,618.85 (a decline of 15.69% from the peak) using the purple support line or about 15,797.72 (a decline of 41.12% from the peak) using the black final support line. Note that the Dow has already hit 22,618.85 on December 21.

Source: Stockcharts.com

The left side of the image above is the 5-year graph, while the right side is the 1-year graph. In the 5-year graph, the S&P 500 formed a bearish ascending triangle with a target of 2,380 by July 2019. The W%R is -2.06 (extremely overbought), and the RSI is 61.98 (getting close to overbought). However, in four of the five times the RSI and W%R were at similar levels from 2014-2017, the index rose. Two of the times were in late 2015 and early 2016. In the 1-year graph, the S&P 500 formed a bearish triple top, with a target of 2,350 by February 2019. Note that the index fell slightly below the 200-dma three times in the past year and bounced back. The S&P 500 also always bounced back above the 200-dma when falling slightly below it in the 5-year graph, except in the 2015 and 2016 corrections where the index fell 8.91% and 11.71% respectively. After the rally, the S&P 500 is down 8.87% from its high.

Source: S&P 500 90-year Historical Chart

In the log scale of the 90-year graph of the S&P 500 above, the grey shaded areas are recessions. The graph shows that the index bounced down from the long-term resistance line to just above the purple support line and then up to 2,670.71. If the S&P 500 breaks below the purple support line, the next support line is shown in black. This is the final support line, meaning I do not expect the S&P 500 to fall below that line. As of January 22, 2019, the long-term resistance line is 3,101.30; the purple support line is 2,226.83; and the final support line is 1,574.17. The 2000 and 2007 peaks were both at about the same level: 1,498.58, which is slightly below the final support line. Inflation-adjusted, the 2000 peak was 2,136.52, which is slightly below the purple support line.

The index seems to follow a super cycle where it oscillated from February 1928 - July 1950 (about 22.4 years), steadily rose for about 18.4 years, oscillated from November 1968 - July 1982 (about 13.7 years), steadily rose for about 17.8 years, oscillated from March 2000 - January 2013 (about 12.8 years), and steadily rose for about 6.0 years. Based on the super cycle, the index appears to have 4.5 years of steady growth before a period of oscillation. Assuming the index falls from the resistance line to either the purple or black support lines, the index could have a repeat of the 1960 crash, which lasted about 2.0 years, or the 2008 Credit Crisis, which lasted 2.8 years. Assuming a pullback from the peak lasting 2.0 years, the bottom would be about September 19, 2020, at about 2,481.94 (a decline of 15.31% from the peak) using the purple support line. Assuming a pullback from the peak lasting 2.8 years, the bottom would be about July 8, 2021, at about 1,863.71 (a decline of 36.41% from the peak) using the black final support line. Note that the S&P 500 has already hit 2,481.94 on December 19.

Source: Stockcharts.com

The left side of the image above is the 5-year graph, while the right side is the 1-year graph. In the 5-year graph, the NASDAQ formed a bearish rounded top with a target of 5,700 by June 2019. The W%R is -3.87 (extremely overbought), and the RSI is 60.96 (getting close to overbought). However, in four of the five times the RSI and W%R were at similar levels from 2014-2017, the index rose. Two of the times were in late 2015 and early 2016. In the 1-year graph, the NASDAQ formed a bearish double top with a target of 6,000 by February 2019. Note that the index never fell below the 200-dma until October of this past year. The NASDAQ also always bounced back above the 200-dma when falling slightly below it in the 5-year graph, except in the 2015 and 2016 corrections where the index fell 10.09% and 15.41% respectively. After the rally, the NASDAQ is down 11.74% from its high.

Source: NASDAQ 45-year Historical Chart

In the log scale of the 45-year graph of the NASDAQ, the grey shaded areas are recessions. The graph shows that the index bounced down from the long-term resistance line to just below the green resistance line and then up to 7,084.06. If the NASDAQ fails to break above the green resistance line, the support line is shown in purple, and the next support line is shown in black. The final support line, meaning I do not expect the NASDAQ to fall below that line, is shown in blue. As of January 17, 2019, the long-term resistance line is 7,917.10; the green support line is 7,414.21; the purple support line is 5,962.53; the black support line is 4,875.56; and the final support line is 3,486.20. The 2000 peak was at 4,696.69, which is slightly below the black support line. Inflation-adjusted, the 2000 peak was 6,969.89, which is between the green and the purple support lines.

The index seems to follow a super cycle where it oscillated from May 1972 - April 1979 (about 6.9 years), steadily rose for about 20.4 years, oscillated from September 1999 - January 2012 (about 12.3 years), and steadily rose for about 7.0 years. Based on the super cycle, the index appears to have another 3.2 years of steady growth before a period of oscillation. Assuming the index falls from the resistance line to either the purple or black support lines, the index could have a repeat of the 1999 bubble burst, which lasted 2.8 years, or the 2008 Credit Crisis, which also lasted 2.8 years. Assuming a pullback from the peak lasting 2.8 years, the bottom would be about August 21, 2021 at about 7,540.35 (a decline of 6.04% from the peak) using the purple support line, at about 6,190.17 (a decline of 22.86% from the peak) using the black support line, and at about 4,404.42 (a decline of 45.12% from the peak) using the blue final support line. Note that the NASDAQ has already hit 7,540.35 on October 18.

Source: Stockcharts.com

The left side of the image above is the 5-year graph, while the right side is the 1-year graph. In the 5-year graph, the Russell 2000 formed a bearish rounded top with a target of 1,190 by June 2019. The W%R is -2.90 (extremely overbought), and the RSI is 63.16 (getting close to overbought). However, in four of the eight times the RSI and W%R were at similar levels from 2014-2017, the index fell. Two of the times were in late 2015 and early 2016. In the 1-year graph, the Russell 2000 formed a bearish descending triangle with a target of 1,115 by February 2019. Note that the index never fell below the 200-dma until October of this past year. The Russell 2000 also always bounced back above the 200-dma when falling slightly below it in the 5-year graph, except in 2016 bear market where the index fell 24.34%. After the rally, the Russell 2000 is down 14.84% from its high.

Source: Yahoo Finance

In the log scale of the 30-year graph of the Russell 2000, the grey shaded areas are recessions. The graph shows that the index bounced down from the blue long-term resistance line to 1,471.95. The support line is shown in black, and the final support line, meaning I do not expect the Russell 2000 to fall below that line, is shown in purple. As of January 22, 2019, the black long-term resistance line is 3,110.94; the green resistance line is 2,511.63; the blue resistance line is 1,735.84; the black support line is 1,279.88; and the final purple support line is 881.29. The 2007 peak was at 853.41, which is slightly below the final purple support line.

The index seems to follow a super cycle where it steadily rose for about 6.7 years, oscillated from October 1997 - May 2003 (about 5.6 years), steadily rose for about 4.2 years, oscillated from July 2007 - December 2012 (about 5.4 years), steadily rose for about 2.3 years, oscillated from April 2015 - November 2016 (about 1.6 years), and steadily rose for about 2.2 years. Based on the super cycle, the index appears to be near a period of oscillation. Assuming the index falls from the blue resistance line to either the black or purple support lines, the index could have a repeat of the 1999 bubble burst, which lasted 2.8 years, or the 2008 Credit Crisis, which also lasted 2.8 years. Assuming a pullback from the peak lasting 2.8 years, the bottom would be about November 9, 2021, at about 1,656.75 (a decline of 4.83% from the peak) using the black support line, at about 1,143.39(a decline of 34.32% from the peak) using the purple support line. Note that the Russell 2000 has already hit 1,656.75 on October 2.

Is a Recession and Bear Market Coming?

Simple answer is absolutely. When? Not sure. A recession is a "part of the business cycle." And the business cycle is the "natural rise and fall of economic growth," which can be measured by GDP growth. Looking at business cycles since 1945, the National Bureau of Economic Research calculated that for the average time between recessions is 3.2 years. But the time between the last three recessions were 7.7 years, 10.0 years, and 6.1 years respectively. The last recession, known as the Credit Crisis or Great Recession, was from December 2007 to June 2009. It has been 9.6 years since the end of the Great Recession. And on July 1, 2019, the U.S. economic expansion would become the longest on record. This seems to hint at a possible recession in mid-2019 or soon after.

In my January 26, 2016 article, I mentioned that Thomas Lee correlated a bear market in the S&P 500 with the end of the business cycle, saying that "since 1878, any bull market lasting 4 years or more, has turned into a bear market only when the business cycle ends as best evidenced by an inverted long-term (30Y vs. 10Y) yield curve." From the graph below, one can see that inversions in the 30-year minus 10-year treasury happened four times since 1990. It looks like another inversion will happen soon, and the S&P 500 may enter bear market territory on May 11, 2019 (when the support line inverts) or December 28, 2021 (when the resistance line inverts). The May inversion seems to fit with the saying, "Sell In May And Go Away." And that strategy has worked 86% of the time for the Dow since 1950.

Source: Daily Treasury Yield Curve Rates

A bear market is defined as a pullback of 20% or more. One can argue that 18.77% and 19.78% fall in the Dow and S&P 500 is very close to bear market territory, but technically neither the Dow or S&P 500 have gone into a bear market. Both the NASDAQ and Russell 2000 already went into a bear market. Since the S&P 500 is down 11.10% since its highs, it could fall about 9.9% from now till May 11, 2019.

But the S&P 500 could hit a new high after inverting. The four inversions since 1990 are listed in the table below with the peak in the S&P 500, the days from the inversion to the peak, and the percentage decline from peak to trough. Two of them (2000 and 2007) were followed by deep bear markets. The 1994 inversion was not followed by a noticeable peak. Thus, a peak could happen between about 2.4 months and 20.5 months after the inversion. Assuming a May 11, 2019 inversion, a peak could happen on August 7, 2019, or January 16, 2021. This would mean the current stock market decline could be a correction before the storm.

Source: S&P 500 Historical Prices

What About Other Inversions?

The yield curve produced its first inversion on December 3, 2018. The 3-year and 5-year treasury inverted for the first time since 2007. From December 3 to the bottom on December 26, the Dow, S&P 500, NASDAQ, and Russell 2000 fell 15.62%, 15.74%, 16.78%, and 18.21% respectively. Since then, the 5-year treasury has inverted with the 2-year and 1-year treasury. The 5-year and 6-month treasury inverted on December 31, 2018, followed by the 5-year and 3-month treasury a few days later. When is the next major inversion, and how may it affect the market?

Source: Daily Treasury Yield Curve Rates

The next major inversion is the 10-year vs. the 2-year. The support line of the 10-year minus the 2-year (purple line) has an inversion at June 5, 2019. The resistance line of the 10-year minus the 2-year has an inversion at September 20, 2020. Thus, the market could have a pullback as it around June 5, 2019, or around September 20, 2020.

But Warren Buffett said to watch future interest rates and the 30-year treasury. The Fed just raised its benchmark rate to 2.25%-2.5%. The 3-month treasury has nearly matched the Fed Funds rate since 2010. The support line of the 30-year minus the 3-month (blue line) has an inversion at January 18, 2020. The resistance line of the 10-year minus the 2-year has an inversion at February 2, 2020. This would indicate that the market enters a bear market sometime between January 18, 2020, and February 2, 2020.

Can a Recession and Bear Market Be Near at 3.4% GDP Growth?

On December 21, 2018, third quarter (July - September) GDP growth was reported to be 3.4%. That means a recession may still be a while away. It is important to note that a recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth. How long will it take to reach negative GDP growth? Based on the graph below, GDP growth could plunge to negative very quickly. The orange line shows the current GDP growth rate. Since the Credit Crisis, the GDP growth rate fell to negative in both the second quarter of 2011 and the fourth quarter of 2013 after being 2.9% and 3.2% respectively. Thus, the U.S. could fall into a recession as soon as next quarter.

Source: U.S. GDP Growth Rate

But a straight line prediction gives a recession towards the end of this year. Growth was 4.2% in the second quarter. Assuming the rate of decline remains constant, it will take 4.25 quarters or 12.75 months starting in October of 2018 to hit negative. Thus, the U.S. could hit negative GDP growth in beginning of November of 2019. While a recession is not identified until after two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth, the Credit Crisis officially started in December 2007, about the same time GDP growth became negative. However, economists estimate GDP growth to slow to 2.1% in the fourth quarter of 2019.

But with the current partial government shutdown, it is estimated that 0.1% of GDP growth is lost every 1-2 weeks since December. Moody's Analytics estimates that GDP growth would fall by 0.5% if shutdown lasts through March, but the Trump Administration estimates that GDP growth would fall by 1.5% over the same period. Thus, if fourth quarter GDP growth comes in at 2.6% using a straight line estimate, growth could slow to 1.1% in the first quarter. Fourth quarter GDP report is due January 30, but it will likely be delayed due to the government shutdown. This would mean GDP growth could hit negative in July of 2019.

The log scale graph below shows how fast 3.4% GDP growth can turn into a recession and bear market. In 1987, GDP growth was 3.5% followed by 4.2% in 1988 and 3.7% in 1989. But the S&P 500 still fell 33.5%. Before almost every recession since the 1960s, the S&P 500 peaked when GDP growth was about 3.4%. Recessions, shown in grey in the graph, almost always happened about a year later. And even in 2007, where the GDP growth rate was below 3.4%, GDP growth peaked at 3.5% in the fourth quarter of 2006. However, the S&P 500 peaked in October of 2007. The annual GDP growth rate in 2007 was 1.9%. Thus, the market almost certainly will go lower from now to the coming recession.

Source: YCharts

But the Fed Said They May Ease on Rates

Apparently, this Santa Claus rally which extended to mid-January was partly due to expectations that the Fed will pause, slow, and possibly cut rates. On January 4, the stock market surged as the Fed said that they are ready to adjust policy if needed based on the data. The market interpreted this as a hint that the Fed may not raise rates in the January 29-30 Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). In its December meeting, most members saw two rate hikes in 2019. But many Fed members are now calling for a pause in rates. I expect the Fed to pause and then continue raising rates, especially if the job market stays as strong as the January 4 jobs report, but not on January 29-30. While the Fed issues a policy statement of economic outlook at the end of each FOMC meeting, it generally does not raise rates when the Fed Chairman does not speak. This would mean that the next interest rate hike if it does happen will be in the March 20-21 Federal Open Market Committee.

But even if the Fed does not raise rates, the graph below seems to hint that rates are high enough to cause the next recession. The red resistance line shows that while the current effective Fed Funds rate of 2.40% is below 3.50%, the lowest rate that preceded a recession, the current rate nearly matches the previous three rate peaks that preceded recessions when drawing a downward sloping straight line. Further, the last two rate peaks correlated with peaks in the S&P 500.

Source: Effective Federal Funds Rate (Daily)

What is the Correlation Between a Market Peaks and a Recession?

As Financial Sense points out, there have been nine recessions since the S&P 500 started in 1957. The S&P 500 peaks on average 183.2 days (26.2 weeks or 0.50 years) before a recession. The shortest time between a peak and a recession was 17 days (2.4 weeks), while the longest time was 367 days (52.4 weeks or 1.01 years). The first quartile (25%), second quartile (50%), and third quartile (75%) is 55 days (7.9 weeks or 0.15 years), 215 days (30.7 weeks or 0.59 years), and 294 days (42.0 weeks or 0.81 years) respectively. Both the shortest time and the smallest percentage decline from peak to start of recession are highlighted in green, and the longest time and the largest percentage decline from peak to start of recession are highlighted in yellow. Note that the S&P 500 has never fallen more than 18.74% from peak to start of recession. The S&P 500 is down 10.93% from its peak. Thus, the index could fall 7.81% from now to the start of the recession.

Source: Financial Sense

It has been 109 days since the S&P 500 peaked on September 20, 2018. Given the average time between the peak and a start of the next recession, it seems that the coming recession could 74 days (about 2.5 months) away on average and 258 days (about 8.6 months) maximum.

What About the Trade War, Tariffs, and the Shutdown?

I tried to ignore politics as much as possible in this article, partly because politics can rapidly change, especially with this administration. It is possible that a deal could be made between the administration and China before March 1, the deadline before 25% tariffs, up from 10%, on $200 billion of Chinese goods goes into effect. Trump is currently eager to strike a trade deal, but after Chinese leaders insisted that there must be compromise, any deal probably would not meet all of Trump's demands such as lowering the trade deficit and returning more manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. Thus, I do not see a deal made by March 1. Negotiations could be extended though.

But on Friday, January 18, it was stated that China offered to buy $1 trillion more goods from the U.S. over six years to reduce its $323 billion trade deficit to zero. So there might be hope. In 2017, U.S. imports and exports to China were $522.9 billion and $187.5 billion (up 12.4% from a year ago) respectively. Assuming a constant growth in imports and a 12.4% growth in exports plus a $1 trillion increase over six years is enough to close the trade deficit to zero. But Trump discarded a deal that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin negotiated with China in May where China agreed to "significantly" increase purchases of U.S. goods. Why would Trump stick with this deal after discarding the May deal?

Trump may also introduce tariffs on nearly $200 billion of auto imports. The Commerce Department is supposed to submit a report due on February 17 to see if auto imports are a threat to national security. Odds are that Trump will slap tariffs on auto imports, having mentioning a 25% tariff before.

The partially government shutdown that Trump started on December 21 over funding for the border wall is the longest in history. At day 32, unpaid federal workers likely to miss a second paycheck. On January 9, Fitch warned that the nation's AAA credit ratings could be cut if the shutdown continues to March 1 and lawmakers fail to act on the debt ceiling. The last time the nation's credit rating was downgraded was on August 5, 2011, when Standard & Poor's lowered it to AA+. The S&P 500 declined 18.8% from July 7 to October 3. From August 5 to October 3, the index declined 8.4%.

And history is also not on Trump's side. Since Teddy Roosevelt, every Republican President had a recession during their first term in office. President Trump's first term began on January 20, 2017, and will end on January 20, 2021. This statistic would say that a recession could happen in 2019 or 2020. If Trump's policies fail, all stock gains since his election on November 8, 2016, could be wiped out. On his election, the Dow was 17,888, the S&P 500 was 2,085, the NASDAQ was 5,046, and the Russell 2000 was 1,163. That means the Dow, S&P 500, NASDAQ, and Russell 2000 would fall a total of 33.32%, 28.86%, 37.78%, and 33.19% respectively.

Does Valuation Support a Fall in Stocks?

Valuation-wise, the market seems overbought with S&P 500's P/E ratio at 20.21 vs. 14.73 median. From the graph below, it seems that the P/E ratio has a better chance of falling to the median that rising back up to the resistance line. The current P/E ratio fell from 25.65 in the second half of 2018. Other than the Tech Bubble and 2008 Credit Crisis, the last time the P/E ratio was that high was around 1895, where the following recession was partial blamed on the 1890 protectionist McKinley Tariff, which "raised the average duty on imports to almost 50%." As noted above, Trump may do the same.

Source: S&P 500 P/E Ratio

The Shiller P/E ratio at 28.49 vs. 15.70 median also seems ready to fall. The Shiller PE ratio hit the same valuation five times since 1925, shown as straight vertical green lines in the graph below.

  • Two of the five times, the Dow and the S&P 500 peaked right before a recession (the Great Depression and the 2008 Credit Crisis).
  • Two of the five times, the Dow and the S&P 500 continued heading higher (1997 and 2016).
  • One time happened right after a recession (Tech Bubble).

Source: S&P 500 Cyclically Adjusted Price-Earnings Ratio

The S&P 500 Cyclically Adjusted Price-Earnings Ratio is also known as the Shiller P/E ratio. The median for the Shiller P/E ratio is 15.70, which intersects the second support line. The first support line became a resistance line, and the Dow recently peaked at the resistance line.

Conclusion

It looks like a deep recession and bear market is in cards. While buying gold (GLD) seems the obvious hedge, I have been recommending dividend growth stocks in three of my last four articles listed below:

And I created a list of Super Safe Stocks in 2017.

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.