If you pay close attention to our stock market forecasts, the title of this piece will look familiar.
At the end of 2019 we made the same exact forecast for the end of 2020 — the strangest year in our lifetimes, and it's not even over. Compared to most analysts, this was a very bullish call. And then, when the market hit a pre-COVID19 peak of 3386 in mid-February, if anything we looked not bullish enough.
Then the bottom fell out of both stocks and the economy, struck by a combination of COVID19 and overly-strict government shutdowns. The S&P 500 bottomed at 2237 on March 23, pricing in an 80% drop in corporate profits from the year before, making our call of 3650 look obsolete.
About seven weeks later, on May 8, stocks had recovered back to 2930, but we figured 3650 was probably still obsolete, and so revised our year-end forecast for the S&P 500 to 3100. Still bullish, but from a lower base.
Then, only four weeks later, the S&P 500 had blown through our updated year-end target and was sitting at 3194. So we revised up our year-end target again, this time to 3350.
But, here we are at the end of August and once again stocks have blown through our updated target, closing last week at 3508. As a result, we're moving our target back up to exactly where we started: 3650.
The key lesson in all this should be that it is a fool's errand to try to time the market. Imagine being told on February 15 that the world was about to be hit by a widespread virus for which there was no known therapy or cure, that governments were going to react by shutting down massive swaths of their economies, and that US real GDP was about to drop at the fastest rate for any quarter since the Great Depression.