Blame Washington for painful sell-offs not economic problems, Wall Street bull Rich Bernstein says

Institutional Investor hall of famer Richard Bernstein is attributing the turbulent market swings on skittishness surrounding D.C. Beltway policies — not something critically wrong with economy.

According to Bernstein, stocks should be reflecting a healthy economy right now instead of bouncing around correction levels.

"The fundamentals really don't argue for a bear market," the Richard Bernstein Advisors CEO said Monday on CNBC's "Trading Nation." "In fact, I would even argue the fundamentals don't argue for the correction that we're seeing."

So, what's the problem?

Bernstein is blaming Washington policies. He named uncertainty surrounding China tariffs as a major factor contributing to the market volatility.

"How do you possibly assess credit risks when somebody's import prices might be up 25 percent or might be down 10 or 15 percent?" he asked. "Think right now about how difficult it must be for a CFO to plan for 2019 not really knowing what public policy is going to be. I think it's very difficult, and I think it's made investors very wary of what's going on here in the economy."

That appeared evident on Monday when the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq returned to correction territory, falling 10 percent from their recent all-time highs. The move came mainly on jitters related to a delayed Brexit vote in the United Kingdom and concerns about the yield curve. Yet by the close, the major indexes staged an impressive comeback with the Dow erasing a 500 point drop.

Bernstein, a long-time bull who has spent decades on Wall Street, is focusing on economic fundamentals instead of uncertainty. He pointed to accelerating earnings, ample liquidity and the absence of overly bullish sentiment as reasons to stay positive on stocks.

"If one was to solely look at fundamentals, it would be very difficult to say that we're on the precipitous of an all-out bear market," Bernstein said. "I've been on CNBC for months saying that we're shooting ourselves in the economic foot."


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Trading Nation is a multimedia financial news program that shows investors and traders how to use the news of the day to their advantage. This is where experts from across the financial world – including macro strategists, technical analysts, stock-pickers, and traders who specialize in options, currencies, and fixed income – come together to find the best ways to capitalize on recent developments in the market. Trading Nation: Where headlines become opportunities.

Michael Santoli

Michael Santoli joined CNBC in October 2015 as a Senior Markets Commentator, based at the network's Global Headquarters in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.  Santoli brings his extensive markets expertise to CNBC's Business Day programming, with a regular appearance on CNBC's “Closing Bell (M-F, 3PM-5PM ET).   In addition, he contributes to CNBCand CNBC PRO, writing regular articles and creating original digital videos.

Previously, Santoli was a Senior Columnist at Yahoo Finance, where he wrote analysis and commentary on the stock market, corporate news and the economy. He also appeared on Yahoo Finance video programs, where he offered insights on the most important business stories of the day, and was a regular contributor to CNBC and other networks.

Follow Michael Santoli on Twitter @michaelsantoli

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