There are so many crosscurrents in the market right now it’s hard to make any sense of it. Bulls point to the fact that stocks now yield more than bonds and by a record amount. They argue stocks are cheap based on this statistic and based on forward earnings estimates.
Bears, on the other hand, argue that stocks are way overpriced based on the Shiller PE, a more conservative method of valuation. They also point to the fact that the last time individual investors poured this much money into equity funds it amounted to a loudly ringing bell marking the top of the biggest bull market anyone has ever seen.
I see both sides. To me, the bears make a slightly more compelling case right now. But it’s not completely convincing; there are still good reasons to hold onto stocks right now. We all know that compound interest is the “eighth wonder of the world” so for me, it takes a lot of convincing to jump off that train.
In fact, I don’t even try to do it purposefully anymore. I do it more from the “bottom up” than “top down” these days. When I don’t find attractive opportunities to make investments I just don’t do it. When investments I have made reach what I deem fair value I’ll sell some. Cash builds up and we’ve got dry powder for the next downturn. Then stocks sell off and I just happen to find more opportunities to put money to work.
This is my natural form of market timing and it has served me very well. It’s served me much better than actively pursuing other market timing strategies based on any fundamental, technical or sentiment indicators. Right now I’m not finding many opportunities to money to work. I am seeing areas of over-exuberance, though.
Facebook is one I wrote about the other day and it’s fallen about ten percent since. It looks like it’s on the verge of a larger decline but I wouldn’t dare short it. As for the broader market, I’m just sitting on my hands for now until the crosscurrents settle down and opportunity presents itself again. Put your buy list together and be patient.