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Posted: January 12, 2011

Getting bullish

After 10 years of bubbles and catastrophes, time for a little optimism

Ron Phillips

We have experienced a lot of calamity over the last 10 years. We have had bubbles, ranging from the run-up, to the housing bubble and credit crisis and currently the commodities bubble. Of course, we have also had disasters like 9/11 and the Great Recession.

What has been the impact on the market? Towards the start of the last decade, the S&P 500 experienced three negative years in a row (2000-2002). That only occurs roughly every four decades. Big news on its own. Then the whole decade was negative. That was HUGE news. A negative decade for the S&P 500 is a "two-century" event. Very rare.

These last 10 years would make just about anyone down on the market and the economy. With all of these bubbles swirling around, I have never been bullish, either.

A silver lining

One big money manager, billionaire Bill Gross, firmly believes in a "new normal." By new normal he means low GDP growth and high unemployment forever. I think that is nonsense. America has a dynamic, multi-layered economy that prizes innovation and growth. That is our saving grace.

I heard recently we can even balance the federal budget by 2014 by simply freezing government spending. How could that be? Because America is a dynamic, multi-layered and growing economy.

There is a technical term that sums up my new optimism. It is called "reverting to the mean." That is a fancy way for saying returning to normal. After such extreme events this "rule" says we should expect a more normalized market return. We could even experience better-than-average returns in the next several years. I would be happy with normal yearly returns in the eight to ten percent range.

Support from the IMF

This is not just blind confidence, either. The International Monetary Fund has estimates for our GDP. From 2011 to 2015 we are estimated to hit new, never-before-seen highs in our economy. Going from an estimated $14.6 trillion in 2010 to $18 trillion by 2015.

In good company

There are always opposing views about the future. There are some very passionate pessimists like Bill Gross. But there are some other optimists. Another billionaire money manager, Ken Fisher, went so far as to call Gross' new normal "idiotic." Fisher also alluded to more growth ahead, saying, "Get ready for this market's second leg."

More level-headed optimism has come from Warren Buffett, saying recently "I am a huge bull on this country." Even Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has said " is reasonable to expect some pickup in growth in 2011 and in subsequent years."

How to profit

What does all of this mean? It could mean risk will once more pay better than safety. If you have been using the mattress for your investments now could be a good time to slowly increase your exposure to the market.
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Ron Phillips is an Independent Financial Advisor and a Pueblo, Colorado native. He and his wife are currently raising their two sons in Pueblo. Order a free copy of his book "Investing To Win" by visiting or leaving a message on his prerecorded voicemail at 924-5070. Simply mention Promo Code #1001 when ordering.

Enjoy this article? Sign up to get ColoradoBiz Exclusives. The opinions expressed in this article are solely that of the author and do not represent ColoradoBiz magazine. Comments on articles will be removed if they include personal attacks.

Readers Respond

While I see a return to hiring resuming at a moderate pace in 2011, I still think that REAL unemployment will be with us for a while. The government figures and the actual employment rate have little to do with one another. The problem is that whole sectors of employment are going to go away, esp. for skilled and unskilled labor, and be replaced by robots, computers, etc. Many people will simply become among the chronic unemployed...which our beloved government doesn't count. As always, those of us with some education and means will find a way to remain prosperous. Those, however, at the bottom will, unfortunately, keep trending to having less and less of the pie. By John Heckers, MA, CPC, BCPC on 2011 01 14
“Long ago, Sir Isaac Newton gave us three laws of motion, which were the work of genius. But Sir Isaac’s talents didn’t extend to investing: He lost a bundle in the South Sea Bubble, explaining later, ‘I can calculate the movement of the stars, but not the madness of men.’ If he had not been traumatized by this loss, Sir Isaac might well have gone on to discover the Fourth Law of Motion: For investors as a whole, returns decrease as motion increases” – Warren Buffett By Roy S. on 2011 01 12
I like Warren Buffet. His sage advice seems to reign true. “We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful.” By Eric on 2011 01 12
Low GDP growth and high unemployment FOREVER seem ridiculous to me. How can anyone actually make a prediction for infinity? By Sal on 2011 01 12

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