(Bloomberg) -- The S&P 500 is down nine percent since the start of the year on concerns ranging from negative interest rates to a hard landing in China. A new survey from Goldman Sachs shows a growing% of the firm’s clients are worried about a global recession.
"Fund managers are fearful that negative animal spirits have taken hold in the global economy and a recession is looming," the note, sent out by Chief U.S. Equity Strategist David Kostin and his team, says. "More than one-third of the clients attending our recent macro conference in Hong Kong expect cash will post the highest risk-adjusted return of any asset class in 2016. Nearly 60% of the participants forecast global equities will deliver a negative return this year."
The Goldman team doesn’t discredit the heightened concerns, but the team says the strength of the consumer should not be overlooked. "Many investors believe the economy is on the precipice of a recession. However, quantitative and qualitative measures of consumer activity suggest spending will continue and the economic expansion will persist."
So unless the consumer starts exercising more caution and spending decelerates, Goldman remains bullish on the global economy. The most recent retail sales numbers were relatively strong across the board, increasing for a third straight month in January with 8 of 13 major categories showing increases in demand from the prior month.
It's worth noting that Goldman started the year with one of the lowest 12-month targets for the S&P 500 at 2,100, but with a number of other firms lowering their targets, Goldman is now near the front of the pack. Stocks would have to rise 13% to reach that target.