The month of October gets all the “love,” but since 1990, August has been the cruelest month for stocks. We point this out because calendar patterns lately seem to explain this market better than just about anything else. In 2022, big losses in stocks and bonds arrived right on schedule—during a time of Jewish sabbatical (the Shmita Year).
Monetary conditions have worsened, recession evidence is piling up, and some of our Large Cap valuation measures have returned to their tenth historical deciles. However, with the economy near full employment we thought it worth revisiting the past to find examples where the market might have temporarily thrived under similar circumstances.
The hostile monetary backdrop makes recent stock market exuberance even more irrational than in early 2021. Yet, this is the middle of a seasonal window that historically boasts an elevated level of craziness: It is the year preceding a presidential election—a time when monetary and fiscal stimulus are ramped up.
Next month kicks off the seasonally-weak phase of the stock market’s Annual Cycle: May-October. Overlaid on that is the statistically vulnerable stretch of the four-year Election Cycle: the “mid-point” of the Mid-Term Year. There’s a positive way to spin this mid-term malaise: The cycles imply that an ideal window for a major low is about to open.
Our bearish stance could be tested by the arrival of the seasonally strongest six-month window of the four-year electoral cycle. Since 1926, November of the mid-term year through April of the pre-election year has produced an average un-annualized S&P 500 +16.4% total return.