It's frequently stated in this business that "mom & pop," or small investors, always get it wrong. They buy too late after stocks have risen, and then sell too early after a decline and end up missing the rebound. This trend is so predictably incorrect that some shops simply do the opposite and chalk up their gains to expertise.
With that in mind, it's no surprise that it is increasingly being argued that the record-high stock indexes are doomed simply because investors appear to be belatedly gaining confidence to test the waters, so to speak.
For Don Hays, founder of Hays Advisory Group and a 40-year veteran strategist, nothing could be further from the truth than to suggest that investors have gotten overly bullish.
"Just talk to your neighbor and you're going to get a good idea how skeptical he is about everything," Hays says. In fact, he thinks investors are "still nervous," and "parking their money in the bomb shelter." He also thinks that the euphoria or exuberance that has signaled the end of previous bull markets is a fraction of its former self.
"There's nowhere close to the optimism we've seen at previous peaks in bull markets," he says, pointing to a recent Gallup survey that shows household stock ownership is at a record low of 52%, down from a pre-crisis peak of 67% in 2007.
This is not to say that a correction or pullback won't happen any time now. It is meant to simply rebut the notion that we are all doomed because the masses have fallen in love with stocks again.