Those of you breathlessly waiting for the FOMC's statement this afternoon need to chill; the Fed isn't going to unleash any game changing stimulus. There simply isn't enough negative data in the U.S. to warrant another round of money injection. Our problems aren't a function of high rates but a global slowdown and inept lawmakers. Bernanke can't touch the former and has been scolding Congress for ages, and has nothing to show for it.
Doug Cote, chief market strategist at ING Investment Management, has an even better reason to ignore all things related to the dismal science. The economy is gloomy but the equity markets are doing just fine, thank you.
"Investors are missing a bull market," says Cote in the attached video. "Right now through July we're having the best year since 2003 and the second best year since 1998 so investors need to get into the market regardless of what the Fed does."
At most Cote thinks the Fed gives the market "a nod" via a one-year extension of the plan to keep the Fed fund rates near zero through 2015 or even buying mortgage-backed securities. In light of the looming Fiscal Cliff and expiring tax cuts, markets will move on from a Fed focus in short order.
The uncertainty from Capitol Hill won't be settled by the elections or Congress, from whom Cote expects the worst. Inept or not, it's in the politicians' individual and collective self-interest to fix the issues at the last possible moment, then jumping in and play the hero by preventing their own economic suicide.
What makes Cote bullish are what he estimates will be record corporate profits and the low multiple of the market as a whole.
"We are at an all-time record high in corporate profit levels," he enthuses. "[In] 2011 we hit $97, 2012 we're going to hit $105. How can you not be in the market when we're hitting $105 earnings per share, an all time high?"
The strategist says his $105 number is conservative; he's really looking for something closer to $106 or $108. Putting a relatively conservative 13.5 multiple on his earnings target gives Cote a 1,425 target for the S&P500 by year-end.
Is Cote right? Do corporate earnings trump all else and are they as strong as he thinks? Let us know what you think via our Facebook page or Tweet @jeffmacke