From the desk of Willie Delwiche.
Household equity exposure (as a percentage of total liquid assets) fell again in the third quarter dropping from 56% to 54%. It was at its highest level ever (62%) coming into this year and remains high by historical standards (90th percentile).
Why It Matters: When equity exposure made a new high and then reversed in 2000, it ushered in a lost decade for stocks. The S&P 500 was no higher in late 2012 than it was in early 2000. The same was true in 1968. The S&P 500 was no higher in mid 1979 than it was in late 1968. While stocks were going sideways, household equity exposure was in secular decline. Equity exposure fell from 55% in Q4 1968 to 27% in Q4 1974 (when the S&P 500 bottomed). It dropped from 61% in Q1 2000 to 32% at the stock market low in Q1 2009. From this perspective, 2022 looks less like a one-off decline and more like year 1 of a secular bear market for equities. Opportunities will emerge and fade, but expecting a quick return to the market environment of the past decade seems to defy the lessons of history.
In this week’s Sentiment Report we take a closer look at how investors are feeling in light of their still historically high exposure to stocks.
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