Good riddance to the third calendar quarter which ended yesterday with the S&P 500 down .70% and the NASDAQ down 7.24%.  The worst of the declines came in July and were caused in part by rising crude oil prices as well as disruptions caused by four major hurricanes in the South and East.  Investors spent all of July and half of August ratcheting down their expectations for growth; as car sales, home sales, consumer confidence, and consumer spending all weakened. 

Not too long ago I listened to an Australian gentleman who was interviewed on a radio talk show.  When asked about his experiences inAmerica, he seemed very impressed with our culture, infrastructure, opportunities, etc.  But he concluded his complimentary remarks with a rather telling observation that “no one in this country indicates.”  That’s Australian-speak for ‘uses one’s turn signal.’

Over long periods of time the stock market outperforms bonds by a substantial margin.  But, it should come as no surprise that bonds were the winners over the past two years.  In fact, bonds have outperformed the S&P 500 by a 60% premium, the strongest difference in seventy years (1931 and 1932).  Tom Galvin of Credit Suisse First Boston notes that the year following the strong bond performance, stocks posted a 54% return in 1933 as the cycle reversed.  A similar story of good treasury returns during two consecutive bad years for equities came during 1973 and 1974.  That period was followed by greater than 60% returns in 1975-76.  The left-hand graph below reveals just how significant the signs are that we are at a critical turning point for stock and bond investors.  If the cycle repeats, the next twelve months could bring strong returns to stock investors.