Kass: The 'Wisdom' of Jeremy Siegel
I believe that the stock market will do better in 2008 than it did in 2007, when it chalked up a 5.5% return, the fifth year in a row that the market went up. Year-ahead forecasts for the market are notoriously difficult, but I believe that a 10% to 12% gain is possible, on the heels of a recovering financial sector. Financial stocks plummeted about 20% last year, and this was the reason why the market had a mediocre year. Outside of financials, the S&P 500 Index had double digit returns. A revival of financial stocks would spur good market gains this year.
-- Dr. Jeremy Siegel, " Outlook for 2008 "
Over the past few weeks -- in a cover story by Gene Epstein in Barron's (" Enter The Bull "), in flattering words of endorsement from Jim "El Capitan" Cramer on "Mad Money" and on Real Money , on CNBC's " Street Signs " and in an appearance on " Fast Money " -- Wharton Professor Dr. Jeremy Siegel has been heralded for his wisdom and forecasts.
History shows that the media has a penchant for untimely anointments -- the names are well known by all of us. Think Dr. Nouriel Roubini and his very incorrect view on stocks and of the economy since the generational low in 2009, or Meredith Whitney's wrong-footed view on municipals over the past 18 months.
I recognize that Roubini correctly forecasted the demise of the world's economy and the consequences of the mushrooming of the derivative market in 2007-08, and Meredith Whitney correctly predicted the demise of the domestic banking industry during the same time frame. And I also recognize that Siegel, along with many other pundits, expressed caution toward the sky-high technology multiples in late 1999 and early 2000.
But quite frankly, the streets of Wall Street are paved with geniuses who have made one great call in a row.
I don't mean this to be an ad hominem attack on Siegel (or on the others), but frankly I don't get the media's adulation, continued preoccupation and almost deification of these wags and their views.
Dr. Siegel comes off as a very nice person, but he is an academic who has been bullish at some very wrong times. Importantly, his theories regarding equities for the long term have been wildly off, as bonds have outperformed stocks for one, five, 10, 30 and 40 years, which, according to his investment thesis, is impossible.
His view on the fixed-income market also has been manifestly incorrect over the last two years. Dr. Siegel's Wall Street Journal op-ed, " The Great American Bond Bubble " was wrong in its conclusion back in August 2010.