Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Stocks Nearing All-Time Highs: Time to Jump In?

Yesterday, we posed the question whether this dull market could actually be a good thing, and answered with a qualified maybe.

It's maybe on a number of levels, ranging from time horizons to what kind of investor one is to what levels of risk one would be willing to accept to the high-end macro-view in a world with low bond yields, scary geopolitical events and the usual economic crises popping up every few years.

Today's action was anything but dull, especially for the bulls, who are enjoying one of the greatest months of January in market history.

Stocks have been up roughly 75% of the time, and, with only two trading days left, the smiles are wide from Wall Street nearly to Main Street.

The Dow is rapidly approaching 14,000, closing in on all-time highs, so just about anyone - from the casual investor in mutual funds to the heaviest of heavy hitters in the hedge fund world - who has taken the wild ride from the depths of 2008-09 to the present is flush with profits.

Those who have derided the sub-prime crisis and all subsequent crises as near end-of-the-world experiences (a view widely held on this blog), have been left with little to show other than a pocketful of gold or silver, maybe some real estate and other hard goods.

Not that there's nothing wrong with hard assets, but then stock are putting in 16% gains, like last year, one has to wonder just how long the Fed and the government can keep kicking the can down the road before everything blows up.

The best answer is that they can kick it as far as public perception will allow it. Owing a great deal to normalcy bias - in which one is comfortable with the status quo - the politicians and bankers have a huge advantage. The general public largely wants things to remain somewhat the same and they have and will put up with overly-generous swaths of greed, corruption and avarice, so the rich get richer while the politicians pay no price for their follies.

The point is that over the past four years, stocks have done quite well, and, if you've missed the move, well, hope is that you've done well elsewhere.

As long as the Fed is fixing policy at ridiculous levels, it might be prudent to wade into the waters of Wall Street, buy selectively, and hang on for the ride.

This is, however, the top of the run, though there's no guarantee that it couldn't run even higher, and, in fact, it probably will. That thinking runs contrary to the first tenet of wise investing: buy low, sell high.

The market is highly manipulated and leveraged, the politicians are tools of the bankers, but, they like stocks the most, so, it's a difficult call if going against the tide.

Bottom line is to stick with whatever strategy is working. If you're into gold or land or art or private placements, and it's working, stay there. But, if you have some play money, the returns on stocks over just about any six-month to one-year period in the past four have be easy money.

Dow 13,954.42 Up 72.49 (0.52%)
NASDAQ 3,153.66 Down 0.64 (0.02%)
S&P 500 1,507.84 Up 7.66 (0.51%)
NYSE Composite 8,935.64 Up 55.62 (0.63%)
NASDAQ Volume 2,052,649,125
NYSE Volume 4,198,815,500
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ Advance - Decline: 3759-2669
Combined NYSE & NASDAQ New highs - New lows: 459-17
WTI crude oil: 97.57, +1.13
Gold: 1,660.80, +7.90
Silver: 31.18, +0.404

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