Monday, October 12, 2009

Bulls vs. bears - a contrarian indicator?

Individual investor has turned bullish on the equity markets, but only modestly so. The chart below from Credit Suisse/AAII shows the relative difference between individuals who are bulls vs. those who are bears.

There is a general perception out there that one should be positioned as a contrarian to individual investors. However if you look at the chart of the S&P500 over the same period, it's not clear if the retail guys always get it wrong. Certainly a bullish view in 2004 would have worked.

But many argue that the overwhelmingly bearish views this year had kept the equity markets strong, and any sign of strong bullishness from the retail investor going forward is a signal to get out.

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