That Wall of Worry

Aug 2009 //
Optimism/Pessimism
Investing

Bull markets usually end when investors are optimistic—even complacent.  On the other hand, bull markets continue as investors’ pessimism from prior bear markets gradually dissipates.  Right now, as evidenced by the very high (and slowly declining) levels of money fund deposits, many investors are still cautious, if not outright worried.  A recent Barclays Group survey showed that 68% of investors feel there aren’t significant investment opportunities in the current market; 20% feel there may be significant opportunities, but the risk of further falls is still too high; and only 13% feel there are significant opportunities at present.  Throw us in that briar patch—please—because investor caution/pessimism is basically the fuel that, when gradually converted to optimism, powers bull markets.