Stocktake: Even Covid can’t save the Armageddonists

Markets now at all-time highs with further gains expected in 2021

JPMorgan strategist Michael Cembalest warned about the dangers of listening to forecasters “whose apocalyptic comments spread like wildfire”. Photograph: iStock

JPMorgan strategist Michael Cembalest warned about the dangers of listening to forecasters “whose apocalyptic comments spread like wildfire”. Photograph: iStock

 

A year ago, JPMorgan strategist Michael Cembalest warned about the dangers of listening to the “Armageddonists”, the forecasters and money managers “whose apocalyptic comments spread like wildfire”.

He has returned to the theme, recently noting that even an unprecedented global pandemic was unable to cause the market collapse they had been anticipating. Cembalest’s list includes high-profile names such as George Soros – he missed the market bottom, warning in April that the “worst bear market in my lifetime” was coming – billionaire bond manager Jeffrey Gundlach, Albert Edwards, David Rosenberg and Nouriel Roubini among others.

“Even if we give them credit for including pandemics in their panoply of disaster scenarios, the March sell-off did not erase the underperformance linked to their views,” notes Cembalest.

Not only that, the sell-off was over within weeks. Covid-19 couldn’t rescue the Armageddonists from “underperformance purgatory”, he says, “and now markets are at all-time highs again”, with prospects for further gains in 2021.

Morgan Housel of the Collaborative Fund once pointed out that “optimism sounds like a sales pitch, while pessimism sounds like someone trying to help you”. However, 2020 is yet further proof that in markets, it generally pays to be an optimist.

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