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Investors still leery of stocks 7 years post-financial crisis

Both the S&P 500 and the Dow are on a tear, hitting high after high. Yet, according to a new study published in the Financial Analysts Journal, equity ownership is at its lowest level since 1959. In 2012, investors (both retail and institutional) owned just 37.7% of the available $90.6 trillion of global stock assets. So what gives?

Howard Gold, columnist for MarketWatch and founder of GoldenEgg Investing, joined The Daily Ticker to discuss. “At the very peak of the bull markets in 1968 and 1999, it was about 63% [of all investable assets in stocks], so it’s much lower now.” Does this mean there’s still a way to go before the market reaches its peak?

Not really, says Gold.  “A lot of the institutions have changed the way they invest,” he points out. “A lot of them have moved away from traditional stock and bond investing towards alternative investing.”

Another explanation has to do with an aging population. As the baby boomers age, there’s a tendency both for institutions and for individuals to put their money into less-risky assets such as bonds.

Investor confidence is low, too. “Investors really don’t believe in this market ... they’ve been burned not once but twice in 2000 and again in 2007. Some of them have never gotten back in," says Gold.

The takeaway for investors is not to load up on stocks, says Gold, and that timing the market is a Sisyphean task.

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