Monday, August 23, 2010
Investors Flee Stock Market
At the top of this post you will find an image of Sunday's front page of The New York Times. I did a double take when I saw the headline: "In a striking shift investors flee stock market".
Underneath the front page image I have posted a chart showing monthly inflows and outflows to and from U.S. stock market (red bars) and bond market (gray bars) mutual funds.
Two things stand out on this chart.
First, money is flowing out of stock market mutual funds - a very unusual development. On a monthly basis it looks to me that outflows during the past three months have been greater than for any three month period since the March 2009 low. This is not surprising since the April-July drop in 2010 was twice as big as any other drop since March 2009.
Of course we already know that there is widespread bearish sentiment about the U.S. stock market. This information and the Times headline just confirms this judgment. It gives me confidence that the next big move in stocks from here will be upward.
Second, there has been an enormous inflow of money to bond funds. Since bond yields are at or near their historical low points I take this as a sign that an enormous bullish crowd (on bond prices, not yields!) has built up. I think this bond market crowd is similar to the stock market crowd that existed near the 2000 top in the stock market's internet boom. And I also think that we are very near the point where this bond market crowd will begin to disintegrate, thus sending yields higher and prices lower. I don't think we shall see U.S. bond yields this low again in our lifetimes.