As the financial world emitted a collective groan when the June jobs data crossed the wires this morning, Lakshman Achuthan was calm, unmoved and not surprised. In fact, the co-founder of the Economic Cycle Research Institute says he's seen it coming for months.
"The economy is down-shifting...you can see in the jobs number that the sand is shifting," he says.
As a self-described business cycle expert, Achutan's analysis of data and leading indicators "is able to see through the noise" and allows him to make macro calls on the growth cycle. In fact just two months ago on our sister program The Daily Ticker he said "clearly, unambiguously we will see a global industrial slowdown this summer."
With so much riding on - and priced into - an economic and earnings rebound in the second-half of the year, Achutan not only pours water on that, but ups the ante by saying he cannot rule out slumping into another recession in 2012. "You have a 4/10ths rise in the unemployment rate over the last 3 months. That doesn't happen in an economy that is reviving or firming or gaining steam," he explains.
Further, Achutan says "It's a growth rate slowdown and that's what the market really cares about. Recessions and recoveries, that's old news."
So assume for a minute that Achutan is right (again) and that the growth rate just stumbles along at 1-2%, jobs growth doesn't materialize and the various Purchasing Managers Indexes stall. Achutan says that will have a devastating effect on earnings and stocks. "Profit growth is pro-cyclical, meaning it can't disconnect from the economy" he explains, adding that "you'll have profits. But if you're interested in if they're getting better or worse, it's going to be really tough for them to get better on a sustained basis in a growth rate cycle slowdown."
"I'd be surprised if the market really took off on a sustained basis against what the growth rate of the economy is," he says. "It's not transitory."
What do you think? Is this still just a "soft patch" or something more sinister?
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