An equity strategist for Goldman Sachs is predicting a September selloff that happens so rapidly he is telling clients to protect themselves before Sept. 14.
The reason: Market disappointment over key meetings of the European Central Bank and Federal Reserve—all within the next 10 days.
An ECB Governing Council meeting takes place this Thursday amid growing expectations that ECB President Mario Draghi will lay out some dramatic measures, such as bond purchases or yield caps.
The Fed, meanwhile, meets on Sept. 12 and 13 amid hopes that the central bank will decide on a third round of quantitative easing.
“Our conversations with clients suggest investors anticipate decisive ECB action...and announcement by the (Fed's) FOMC of another round of asset purchases (QE3),” wrote Goldman’s Stuart Kaiser in a note.
But Kaiser doesn't think the Fed will embark on a third round of easing so soon, nor will the rest of Europe—namely Germany—support bold steps by the ECB to resolve its debt crisis.
Bottom line: investors will be disappointed and dump stocks.
In an unusual step for an equity strategist, Kaiser recommends clients purchase S&P 500 puts expiring on Sept. 14 with a strike price of 1375. The holder of this put—a contract to sell an asset at a set price in the future—would gain if the S&P 500 falls below that price before then.
Goldman cited the 10 percent rally in stocks since June, rising sovereign bond yields, and a rising CBOE Volatility Index as reasons to be cautious as September begins.
The firm is hardly alone on Wall Street in its bearishness.
Strategists collectively recommend investors put just 44 percent of their assets in equities, according to a recent survey by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
That is the lowest asset allocation level for stocks since at least 1985 and down from a long-term consensus weighting of 65 percent.
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