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Nobody on Wall Street seems afraid. Here’s why that’s scary. Concerns for 2020. There is that date again!!!

Nobody on Wall Street seems afraid. Here’s why that’s scary. Concerns for 2020. There is that date again!!!

By Paul R. La Monica, CNN Business. Updated 1:56 PM ET, Tue April 9, 2019

New York (CNN Business)Many value investors swear by the saying that the best time to be buying stocks is when there’s blood in the streets. You can get rich by taking advantage of other investors’ fears. But what do you do when absolutely nobody is afraid?

The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq are all sporting double-digit percentage gains in 2019, and are inching closer to the record highs they set last year. Only 34 stocks in the S&P 500 were down for the year as of Monday’s close

The VIX (VIX), a measure of volatility often referred to as Wall Street’s fear gauge, has plummeted nearly 50% this year as anxiety has ebbed about an imminent recession and the Federal Reserve raising rates too aggressively.

The CNN Business Fear & Greed Index, which looks at the VIX and six other indicators of market sentiment, isn’t far from Extreme Greed level

This investor giddiness is starting to make some people worried. The market often suffers from bouts of euphoria right before things turn south. People simply get too complacent.

Analysts at Morgan Stanley’s Wealth Management Global Investment Committee wrote in a report Monday that investors appear to be suffering from a different type of fear these days — the fear of missing out.

The hope, according to Morgan Stanley, is that “a Fed-engineered soft landing and lower real interest rates” will justify current market valuations.

But John Norris, managing director with Oakworth Capital, told CNN Business that he’s preparing his clients for more volatility ahead.

“We’re telling people that this feels nice, but enjoy it while it lasts. We could have periods this year that could be gut-wrenching,” Norris said. “Expectations for earnings and the economy don’t justify this rally.”

Profits are expected to fall in the first quarter and expectations are for weak GDP growth too. Trade tensions haven’t gone away either.

The biggest risk on the horizon is if the United States imposes tariffs on Europe, said Alicia Levine, chief strategist at BNY Mellon Investment Management, following the news that President Trump is threatening tariffs following a dispute over the EU allegedly providing subsidies to Boeing rival Airbus.

But the good news for long-term investors who are planning for retirement is that any pullback in stocks isn’t likely to be severe. Norris said stocks may still finish the year where they ended the first quarter.

In other words, the market may meander a bit and fall slightly from current levels. But it’s not going to plunge like a rock.

“We don’t see a 2008 type event where there is a permanent erosion of capital,” Norris said. “There’s no need to lose sleep over the stock market.”

No need to freak out — but it may be time to exercise caution

Others agree that now is not a time for panic, but prudent and more cautious approach to the market seems justified.

“Volatility is still pretty low but financial conditions suggest you need to tighten your seat belts and stay put,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer of Cresset Capital. “There is a temptation to take money off the table and sit tight for the rest of the year.”

Ablin told CNN Business he’ll be listening very intently to first-quarter earnings calls in the next few weeks to see what corporate leaders are saying about the market and economic outlook.

But some longer-term investors are growing more worried.

Commonfund, an asset manager that works with nonprofit institutions, recently surveyed investors from endowments, foundations and public pensions and found that many of them think the days are numbered for the current bull market.

“Investors have grown more skeptical about the longevity of this strong economy,” said Mark Anson, CEO and chief investment officer of Commonfund in a statement.

Nearly half of those surveyed think the market rally will end within the next year and almost a third think it will go for only another two years. And approximately 60% of those surveyed said they think global stock markets will underperform their historical average returns this year.

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