Stocks are getting slammed — three experts weigh in on the selling

Wall Street is seeing red.

The Dow lost 4.5 percent this week, while the S&P ended the week down nearly 5 percent and still on pace for its worst quarter in seven years.

This as the trade war jitters, Fed uncertainty and fears of slowing economic growth continue to weigh on investors.

Three experts weigh in on what’s next for the markets and the Fed:

• “The economy has some fragilities to it, and fault lines. I think there are some breaks into the foundation and we’re not patching them up right now,” Diane Swonk, chief economist at Grant Thornton, said. “Although the administration is trying to move forward on trade agreements, they have not backed off on any of the tariffs they’ve levied so far, even though they’ve come to tentative agreements with some of our closest trading partners.” Swonk expects a rate hike from the Fed this month, with corporate debt being looked at as a possible tipping point. “Corporate debt has gone up quite a bit, and by the end of this year, I do expect the Fed will do the December rate hike. That’s a doubling of rate hikes in a year. They’re still low, but that interest expense is going up.”

• OppenheimerFunds’ chief investment officer, Krishna Memani, also cites tariffs as a short-term obstacle, but notes that their presence is nothing new. “It’s not a new phenomenon. Tariffs, in and of themselves, don’t really undo the market. What it does is basically a threat of it not stopping at any point and going all in. I think once that probability gets priced out, we’ll be OK.” Like Swonk, Memani doesn’t expect the current environment to sway the Fed in its rate hike decision. “I think there’s enough momentum in the economy for a doctrinaire Fed that’s worried about inflation that hasn’t, kind of, manifested itself,” said Memani. In addition to a December rate hike, he also expects one or two hikes in 2019.

• Goldman Sachs’ chief economist, Jan Hatzius, is taking more of a bullish approach to the recent selling. “There is still rapid growth, and still clearly above-trend growth, but I think it is somewhat softer,” said Hatzius about the current direction of the economy. While he believes that a 3.7 percent unemployment rate is unsustainable for the long-term – and that a rate hike is on the way this month – he does believe that markets are pricing in less tightening for 2019 than they were before. For Hatzius, a longer-term outlook for Fed rate hikes has to revolve around the unemployment rate. “If the unemployment rate stops falling on a, you know, multimonth kind of perspective – looking not just at the household survey but also at other indicators — then I think it would be appropriate to take a pause.”

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