Why the Next Bear Market Will Hit Home Hard
Associate Editor, CNBC
The boom within credit markets could last for another five years and will be a boon for stocks, but when it ends the fall will be much harder than when the last bear market hit, Brian Reynolds, chief market strategist of Rosenblatt Securities told CNBC Thursday.
Reynolds warned that the danger within credit booms was for companies to overleverage and the boom to turn into a bear market. The next one, he predicts, will be worse than the last.
"People always overdo it [leverage] while they're doing it. It's a positive for share prices. When this cycle ends we're probably going to have more leverage and that means the next bear market will be worse than the last one. It's great while it lasts but when the music stops it's going to be really bad. While it goes on, stock prices are going to go up significantly in the next two to five years [but] when it ends you have to get out," he said.
Despite this doom prediction Reynolds said the near apocalyptic ending for the credit market was still some way off.
"We're now at an inflection point where leverage is going to start to creep up. Credit cycles always end and badly but given the demand from pensions and insurance companies that's probably not going to happen for another two to five years," he said.
Reynolds added that for CEOs of companies it would make sense to try and tap that unlimited flow of capital from debt markets while the going is good.
"Like the last boom in the credit markets where these pension funds buy all these bonds and that outs tons of reserves on your balance sheets. If I were a CEO I would just borrow the money at a very low interest rate and give it to the shareholders. While we're in this boom it makes sense for companies to do this type of activity not just for dividends but also buy-backs," Reynolds said.
The credit market has remained largely immune to talk of the potential dangers of the fiscal which Reynolds said were part of the political machinery and would ultimately benefit the stock market.
"In general the credit market hasn't flinched at all with all this fiscal cliff talk. We saw equity markets have some jitters but credit investors are acting as if this fiscal cliff is not a problem at all. This is a politically created event subject to the whims of politicians. Like the summer of 2011 at the end of the day when the dust settles the credit market is going to be okay and that is going to lift stock prices back up," Reynolds told CNBC.
The credit market is heavily weighted by institutional investors for whom it is a "buying opportunity" with retail investors only making up a small proportion of the total and Reynolds said it was just this small minority that was registering any concerns on the fiscal cliff.
"The main action is driven by our large institutions like pension funds and insurance companies. Every time there has been weakness from retail investors those large institutions have stepped up and bought more corporate bonds and that is putting a ton of cash on corporate balance sheets. If there is a panic and they don't reach agreement on the fiscal cliff those companies will buy back their stock," he said.
"We've done over $1.4 trillion worth of new corporate bonds this year and pension funds seem to have an insatiable demand for more. This credit boom is strong and it is like the one that lasted from '03 to '07 but this one will be much longer and more intense because the need of these pension funds is even greater," he said.
-By CNBC's Shai Ahmed, Follow her on Twitter @shaicnbc