How has that dire prognosis worked out? In a word: terrible. Jobless claims are at more than a 40 year low and retail sales are at an all-time high. The US economy continues to expand.
In the past year, S&P profits have grown 12% yoy. Sales are 2.4% higher. By some measures, profit margins are at new highs. Why were the critics wrong? They confused a collapse in one sector - energy, where sales dropped by 60% - with a general decline in all sectors. Energy was considered the same as financials in 2007-08; events since then show that it is nothing like financials.
Where critics have a valid point is valuation: even excluding energy, the S&P is highly valued. With economic growth of 3-4% (nominal), it will likely take exuberance among investors to propel S&P price appreciation at a significantly faster annual clip.
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A year ago, profits for companies in the S&P had declined 15% year over year (yoy). Sales were 3% lower. Margins had fallen more than 100 basis points. The consensus believed all of this signaled the start of a recession in the US.
The chart below was from Barclays at the start of the 2016, who said that big drops in profitability like those last year have coincided with a recession 5 of the last 6 times since 1973 (read further here). Enlarge any chart by clicking on it.