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Markets at a Crossroad: Two Top Execs Square Off

A close look at economic data from the last few weeks sparked two top executives to square off over the direction of the U.S. economy.

"The market is telling you that we are going to have a slow growth" with interest rates remaining in the range 1.5 to 2 percent for a long time, Jeff Kronthal, co-CIO of KLS Diversified told CNBC's The Strategy Session on Friday.

Kronthal pointed to Thursdays' news that Goldman Sachs' chief economist has warned that the American economyis poised for a sharp slowdown in the second half of the year.

But not everyone agrees the outlook is bleak: "There's something good going on and it's on the income statement side," Jerome Castellini, president of CastleArk Management said.

Income statements are showing an increase in job growth and a continued rise in income, and "this week we've had the lowest mortgage rates ever—4.4 percent," he said.

By the end of the year, the president of CastleArk said, "the S&P could go up 10 percent" from where it is right now.

Kronthal, on the other hand, thinks the investor in today's market has been "burned pretty badly, and they're walking conservatively."

For example, he said, consumers got hurt in their net worth, "especially the 30- to 50-year olds who historically are the equity buyers."

But, Castellini countered, "You can only see so much growth in your topline before you have to put money into productivity and expansion, or else somebody else is going to take your market.

"That is the traditional recovery of any economy," he said.

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