The market turmoil triggered by the COVID-19 panic has brought us all manner of noteworthy developments and historic milestones.
We’ve seen multiple thousand-point Dow swings, some of the highest VIX prints since the crisis, harrowing equity plunges exacerbated by quants and sub-1% 10-year US yields.
And yet, until Thursday, it just felt like something was missing – even though I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what that something was.
But now I know, because on today’s edition of CNBC’s “Halftime Report”, Jeff Gundlach chatted with Scott Wapner and delivered a series of hyperbolic soundbites, thus cementing this as a “real” (or “true”, as @truthGundlach would invariably prefer) selloff.
“If [unemployment claims] go above their five-year moving average, you’re done”, a sleepy-looking Gundlach told Wapner. “You can almost put a fork in the economy”.
He elaborated: “If this situation with travel and leisure and nonsocial activity continues, you just wonder if you can keep initial claims down near 200,000 per week”.
You’re reminded that during the depths of the December 2018 selloff, Gundlach famously proclaimed that a bear market had arrived. That interview with Wapner arguably caused a grievous swoon in stocks that day and ended up sparking a brief (and hilarious) feud between Jeff and Jim Cramer, who was less than amused with Gundlach’s bombast.
If you’re wondering whether Jeff thinks the Fed’s emergency rate cut this week constituted “panic”, the answer is yes. But, in a testament to how keen Gundlach is not to perpetuate fear in the market, he told Wapner that “When I say panicked, it doesn’t mean it’s not justified. Sometimes panic is justified”.
Thanks, Jeff. Thanks so much for verifying that, to the extent anyone is panicking, that panic is “justified”.
That is the (almost literal) definition of screaming “FIRE!” in a crowded theatre.
For what it’s worth (which is not much, considering you can just check the market pricing) Jeff expects another Fed cut soon. To wit, from the interview:
If we look at history, once the Fed does a panic, inter-meeting rate cut, particularly when it’s 50 basis points … they typically cut pretty quickly again.
I’m in the camp that the Fed is going to cut rates again, perhaps even in two weeks.
Well, “I’m in the camp” that thinks we should keep Jeff off of TV on days when the market is already in free fall unless he can promise not to say anything that might exacerbate the situation.
Amusingly, Gundlach also told Wapner that virus fears are keeping people from visiting him at the office.
“Business activity is likely to contract”, he said. “I received multiple emails today of clients that were planning on visits to DoubleLine saying they’re canceling them”.