I knew I shouldn’t have turned on CNN in the hotel. I go away for a week and it’s 1997 again!
I don’t feel like posting any more articles from the “buy-and-holders“, although I remain one. So how about some commentary from John Hussman, whose fund HSGFX is
actually even for the year down “only” 15% YTD. I don’t own this fund and am not saying he’s always right, but I think he does a good job of laying out the reasons for his conclusions.
His November 17th weekly commentary is long, but worth the read. Some excerpts:
Our activity as investors is not to try to identify tops and bottoms – it is to constantly align our exposure to risk in proportion to the return that we can expect from that risk, given prevailing evidence.
As for extreme and less likely benchmarks, the 780 level on the S&P 500 would represent a 50% loss from the market’s peak, and would put the market in the lowest 20% of all historical valuations. I would expect heavy demand from value-conscious investors about that level if the market were to decline further, and a decline below that level could be expected to reverse back toward 780 fairly quickly. Further down, but very unlikely at this point from my perspective, the 700 level on the S&P 500 would represent the lowest 10% of historical valuations, 625 would put the market in the lowest 5% of valuations, and anywhere at 600 or below would put the market in the lowest 1% of historical valuations. I don’t expect to see such a level, but there it is. Note that these estimates are unaffected by how low earnings might go next quarter or next year. Stocks are not a claim on next quarter’s or next year’s earnings – they are a claim on an indefinite stream of future cash flows.
As a side note, do your best to filter out comments like “investors are moving out of stocks and into …” or “investors are selling into this decline” or “investors are buying into this rally.” On balance, investors do not sell shares, and they don’t buy shares. Every share purchased is a share sold. The only question is what price movement is required to prompt a buyer and a seller to trade with each other. No money will come off the sidelines into stocks. No money will come out of stocks and onto the sidelines. All such talk is non-equilibrium idiocy. Keep in mind that the “market” consists of different traders with a variety of time-horizons, risk-tolerances, and analytical methods (e.g. technical, report-driven, value-conscious). It is helpful to think in terms of which group of individuals is likely to do what, and when. It is equally important to know which group of investors you belong to. As the old saying goes, if you’re at a poker table and you don’t know who the patsy is, you’re the patsy.
Here’s my attempt at a quick summary: While the present looks bleak, the potential for future returns is looking brighter and brighter for long-term investors. The opposite was true a few years ago. If you’re young and still putting money away, this is a good thing! (Although adequate emergency funds should be your first goal.)
By Jonathan Ping | Investing | 11/21/08, 12:16am