It's arguably one of the best-known folk-rock ballads of all time, instantly recognizable from its opening line, "A long, long time ago."
Of course, I'm referring to Don McLean's American Pie, but not without reason. Maybe it's just me, but so much has happened in the markets and the world lately that even trying to recall the QE3 rally of mid-September seems like it happened such a long, long time ago. The reality is that stocks now have dug themselves into an increasingly ugly situation. In fact, this rolling recovery is quietly approaching a 7% dive, with half of that decline coming in the past week's post-election drama alone.
In some ways, it seems as if the "reasons-to-sell" list has gotten so bad I'm starting to feel that an outright correction (of 10% or more) is almost inevitable at this point. But even if I'm right and we shave another 50 points off the S&P 500, or 500 points off the Dow, would it really even be that bad? Or would it simply be setting us up to come back from Thanksgiving with a vengeance and see a powerful finish to 2012?
"Certainly the valuations suggest that there's not a lot of downside left," says David Chalupnik, the head of equities at Nuveen Asset Management, in the attached video. He's expecting continued volatility until we can at least clear up the threat of the fiscal cliff's tax increases and budget cuts, at which point it's off to the races for 2013.
"We could easily tick down 10%, but our bet is we do solve the fiscal cliff," he says. "Once that compromise is made, the market's going up."
My belief is that an averted fiscal cliff is the expectation -- the consensus belief -- of the good old boys down on Wall and Broad Streets. To me, the absence of a surprise is simply a catalyst-killer, since everyone would have seen the resolution coming, but Chalupnik argues otherwise.
"There are still concerns, but we are moving through uncertainty," he says. He believes sentiment, and troubling situations, are improving, and the key issues like the fiscal cliff, Europe and China "are becoming less big issues."
As a result, he says this is actually a great time to buy stocks, and he's ''adding to equities throughout this whole process." Chalupnik's particular interest is in large, safe dividend-paying blue chips, including big diversified financials and pharmaceuticals stocks.