A publication targeting bank credit officers is offering a stark assessment of the U.S. economy, saying its expansion is over.
The United States faces leaner corporate earnings, more problems from Asia, and a stock market with bleak prospects for the near future, according to "The Investment and Business Forecast," published by the Bank Credit Analyst Research Group.
The Canadian group boasts an editorial board of economists, business analysts, and academics. Its readership includes hundreds of commercial and investment bankers.
The projections, published before the recent stock market swoons, foresaw upheaval and projected additional difficulties for U.S. businesses.
"The long-awaited slowdown in U.S. economic growth is at hand," Martin H. Barnes, the forecast's managing editor, said in an interview last week.
Expectations of an early rebound "will fade" as the pace of economic activity decelerates and concerns about events in Asia intensify, Mr. Barnes said.
The report takes issue with analysts who say the slowdown is but a blip and the United States will quickly bounce back.
"Hopes to return to double-digit earnings growth by the end of the year are hopelessly optimistic," the publication concluded, citing deteriorating trade and declines in capital spending.
The report also dismissed the argument that the downturn in earnings was confined to just a couple of industries. "Some analysts have tried to put gloss on the earnings data by suggesting the downturn has been concentrated in energy and technology companies. The data do not support such a conclusion.
"There is every reason to expect that the squeeze on corporate profitability will persist for at least several more quarters," the report said.
The difficulties in Asia are worsening fundamental problems of a tight labor market and tough pricing environment domestically, the forecast said.
At the same time, "the Japanese economy is still slumping" and will continue to do so. The region will not emerge from its problems until its financial markets stabilize, interests rates decline, and exports increase.
The developments are taking their toll on the stock market, causing its "technical underpinnings to deteriorate," the report said. "The market has been very overbought from a cyclical perspective."
The report said that continued strength in annual money growth and a firm bond market would help temper the problems, and that investor optimism would mute the downturn, with more dollars continuing to enter the equities market.
"There is no indication that retail investors have abandoned their love affair with stocks," the forecast stated.
At the same time, institutional money managers remain under pressure to stay as heavily as possible in equities as opposed to taking cash positions.
"There are no grounds for complacency, and risks should be assessed by monitoring the trends in global trade, money supply, real interest rates, and commodity prices," the report said.