A 10 to 30 percent market drop could hit an overly bullish Wall Street, investor David Tice warns

An investor known for running a bear fund is predicting a massive market setback.

David Tice, who sold his Prudent Bear fund to Federated in 2008, describes 2019's early bull run as a dead-cat bounce.

"This is a rally inside a bear market," he said Wednesday on CNBC's "Trading Nation." "We could have something between a 10 percent and a 30 percent decline [this year]."

He worries a scenario like that would take Wall Street by surprise because optimism is so widespread.

According to Investors Intelligence, the market is doing something right now it hasn't done since September. The Street is seeing the most bulls since stocks were at all-time highs.

Tice believes there's a 50-50 chance of a recession this year — blaming central banks' monetary policies since the 2008 financial crisis, a global slowdown affecting earnings growth, and growing corporate debt.

"I tend to think with this massive amount of debt that we've added, and this massive about of monetary stimulus that we've added, it's going to end very badly," he added.

Despite his bearishness, he isn't ruling out another near-term leg higher.

According to Tice, it's possible to get a bounce as large as 20 percent if the U.S. and China make a trade deal. But he believes the bullish momentum will be fleeting once investors realize the environment isn't favorable for long-term gains.

Whether there's a market crash or just a slow move lower, Tice believes the Street could see a nasty period for 10 to 20 years.

"It's possible we don't have a massive crash," Tice said. "It's possible we could have a massive decline in a period of ugliness. It's possible we just stay in a down 5 percent up 3 percent down 6 percent."

Regardless of the path, Tice believes the risks are too high for individual investors right now.

"The market on a risk reward basis is dangerous," he said. "We do feel as if individuals ought to cut back their equity exposure."

Instead, Tice recommends buying gold, an asset he holds.

"I'm a believer that gold represents true money. We are in a fiat money world, and it's dangerous not to have some gold in your portfolio," Tice said.

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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.

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