Recession threat is rising as earnings roll over, market bear David Rosenberg warns

One of Wall Street’s biggest long-time bears is painting a painful picture for stocks as earnings season goes into full gear.

Gluskin Sheff’s David Rosenberg warns earnings are “rolling over” and ominous economic data suggests the economy is on the brink of a recession.

“Maybe a recession is not here. But it’s certainly suggesting of a significant growth turndown right now in the U.S. economy,” he told CNBC’s “Futures Now ” last Thursday.

Even though the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq posted its worst week since May, they’re still trading just around one percent from all-time highs.

But the robust levels are not deterring Rosenberg’s bearishness.

“The stock market peaked on October of 2007 and the recession started two months later,” he said. “This is one of these rare periods where earnings are coming down, earnings estimates are coming down and the stock market is just rocking and rolling because it’s really a momentum liquidity and central bank driven market.”

Rosenberg, who warned in January that the economy was on a collision course with a recession, wants investors and the Federal Reserve to view the downturn risks more seriously. He believes sluggish second quarter earnings season, which is just a week old, may ultimately emerge as the key catalyst to get them more cautious.

“Companies ahead of time typically trim their estimates. They lower the bar, and that’s why every single quarter you’re thinking ‘oh, like 80% of the companies are beating their estimates.’ Well, because they’ve already lowered,” said Rosenberg.

As for the exact timing of a recession, Rosenberg had a more nuanced answer than last January.

“It’s so difficult to time,” he said. “I was of the view it may have been starting already.”

Despite the delay, Rosenberg is confident trouble is on the horizon even if the Federal Reserve satisfies the Street consensus of a quarter point interest rate cut later this month and helps drive the historic stock market rally to new highs.

“A couple of years ago, I started getting more nervous. I’m pounding my fist on the table more now,” Rosenberg said.

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