Meredith Whitney: “I haven’t been this bearish in a year”

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Below is a CNBC video with Meredith Whitney in which she joins Nouriel Roubini on the doom and gloom parade.  Over the summer, both Whitney and Roubini were fairly optimistic. In June I said:

Think of the consensus forecast as an anchor which restricts the outlook of any individual forecaster afraid of failing unconventionally.

In Roubini’s case – and this logic also applies to media darlings like Meredith Whitney – it does NOT pay to up the ante.  What Faber is saying is that they have already benefitted from the bold and unconventional contrarian market call they initially made.  There is little payoff and much risk from continuing on that path.

To wit, Whitney upgraded Goldman Sachs to a buy and by July she almost sounded bullish. But, things are vastly different now. The banking index is up some 136 percent, with many stocks doubling and tripling. Some are up nine times. This is way over the top.

In her interview with Maria Bartiromo, Whitney gives ample reason to expect significant headwinds in the financial services industry and the economy more generally. While I am less certain that we are presently seeing a secular move to consumer deleveraging yet as evidenced by recent retail sales and current account deficit numbers, there is no doubt that credit lines to small businesses and consumers have been cut as Whitney details. 

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I have also been getting much gloomier about the prospect of a sustainable recovery as a result.

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With fiscal belt-tightening on the agenda at states and municipalities and, now, federally, I expect a double dip in 2011 – a view Whitney shares.

The key question in financial services?

Maria Bartiromo: Do you think that the sector is adequately capitalized today?

Meredith Whitney: No way.

Maria Bartiromo: No way?

Meredith Whitney: No way.

She is bearish on bank stocks generally. As for relative value trades, Whitney says the trade was large cap banks over regionals until now. However, she says now is the time to reduce weight in large cap banks as the outperformance due to government backstops may be about to disappear.

A lot more in the video below. The interview with Whitney runs 11:47.

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