Some Upside Surprises in 2009?

As 2008 lingers a little longer, the mood on Wall Street and among investors could not be more foul. The Madoff scandal renews the betrayal many investors feel. Their anger will only grow as the fourth quarter ends and mutual funds and 401(k) plans report abysmal annual results.

So how about some hope? Though he’s often been gloomy in the past couple years, Charles Dumas of Lombard Street Research offered a shred of optimism in a research note yesterday.

His conclusion: The surprises in 2009 “should be on the upside.”

Wouldn’t that be nice? Rather than continually being surprised by Bear Stearns, Lehman, Madoff, etc., we could get some shockingly good news for a change?

While many expect gloom and doom, we could do better for three reasons, he says: 1. As oil and food prices fall, “U.S. households are benefiting from a 3% real income boost.” 2. The Federal Reserve’s policy of buying up mortgage-backed securities “should have a favorable wealth effect and could loosen up paralysis in the loans market.” 3. A “monster” fiscal stimulus package from the Obama administration, about which we learned more today. Dumas writes government spending, combined with help from net exports “could pull the economy back into growth of 1-2% [in the four quarters from mid-2009 to mid-2010] — versus an ongoing recession at perhaps a 1% rate without a significant package.”

However, it’s not all sunshine in this prediction. Dumas is worried about 2010, predicting there could be another “downward leg” in the economy then. One year at a time.

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