If the average Joe was a good investor or speculator, the average Joe would be a lot richer than most average Joes are. As a rule, when all the average Joes are doing one thing, it’s time to do the opposite. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:
The ideal bagholder is one who adds more on every downturn (buy the dip) and who refuses to sell (diamond hands), holding on for the inevitable Fed-fueled rally to new highs.
Old hands on Wall Street have been wary of being bearish for one reason, and no, it’s not the Federal Reserve: the old hands have been waiting for retail–the individual investor– to go all-in stocks. After 13 long years, this moment has finally arrived: retail is all in.
If you doubt this, just look at record highs in investor sentiment, margin debt and the Buffett Indicator (see chart below). Current valuations are so extreme that the previous extreme in the 2000 dot-com bubble now looks modest in comparison.
I have my own sure-fire indicators for when retail is all-in. One is my Mom’s financial advisor recommends shifting her modest nest-egg out of safe bonds into the go-go stocks that are topping out. Back in late 1999, it was Cisco Systems and the other dot-com leaders, today it’s the FANGMAN stocks. Sure enough, my Mom just informed me her advisor recommended moving money from bonds into a FANG-dominated stock fund. Bingo, we have a winner.
Second indicator: average people who have never traded stocks are all-in and supremely confident they can’t lose. When 20-year college students are trading based on a “genius” 22-year old friend’s advice, retail is all-in. When a worker cleaning a wooden deck pauses to put $100,000 in a company he knows nothing about (yes, true story), retail is all-in.