I continue to view the U.S. economy as most probably entering a recession that will ultimately be marked as beginning in May or June of 2012. We are very much in agreement with the ECRI on this, though our methods are different, and our conclusions are clearly still seen as "fringe" views by the consensus.
For the financial markets, those risks are compounded by the unbalanced "risk-on" exposure that investment managers and institutions adopted early this year, encouraged by a short-lived burst of economic activity, and faith in a central-bank backstop. When heavy "risk-on" positions established in recent months are forced to squeeze out through a narrow exit, large price adjustments may be needed, since investors who are less tolerant of speculative risk seem unlikely to respond with the requisite demand until improved valuations provide a sufficient incentive.
As John Kenneth Galbraith wrote in 1955, "Of all the mysteries of the stock exchange there is none so impenetrable as why there should be a buyer for everyone who seeks to sell. October 24, 1929 showed that what is mysterious is not inevitable. Often there were no buyers, and only after wide vertical declines could anyone be induced to bid ... Repeatedly and in many issues there was a plethora of selling orders and no buyers at all. The stock of White Sewing Machine Company, which had reached a high of 48 in the months preceding, had closed at 11 on the night before. During the day someone had the happy idea of entering a bid for a block of stock at a dollar a share. In the absence of any other bid he got it."