While it may not be one of the most popular stock market sayings, one I like is, “stocks climb a wall of worry.” In other words, there is always something to worry about. Since March 6, 2009, at market bottom, there has been a constant stream of negative stories. Stocks always seem to work through them. I think it’s because investors factor in these stories ahead of time, and when the worries are resolved, stocks continue on their merry way.
It was with that in mind that I read a story in the Wall Street Journal of April 18 about skittish investors. The headline was something like “as stocks climb toward record levels, nervous investors are hedging their bets.” For two consecutive months, investors have piled into “so-called smart funds that try to mitigate risk,” and “exchange-traded products (ETPs) that offer insurance against market volatility.” In addition, investors—seemingly eager to part with hard-earned funds—are also snapping up ETPs that rise when volatility increases.
The article doesn’t suggest any culprits, but one can select from the stories floating around and capture several fears of market participants: the recession that’s just around the corner, the coming earnings collapse, tariffs, and colorful New Deals.
Just remember that on some investment time frame, all these walls reduce to speed bumps.