Black-and-Blue Crash Alert Flag

Let us  begin the week “on message.” The Diary is about money. Today, we’ll stick to the subject.  Old friend Mark Hulbert has done some research on the likelihood of a crash in the stock market.

 

tattered flag bb.Ye olde tattered Crash Alert flag… should it be unfurled again?

Image by fmh

 

Writing in Barron’s, he points out that the risk – or, more properly, the incidence – of crashes, historically, has been very small:

 

“[…] consider that the 1987 and 1929 crashes were the two worst one-day plunges since the Dow Jones Industrial Average was created in 1896. Given that there have been more than 32,000 trading sessions since then, the judgment of at least this swath of history is that in any given six-month period, there is a 0.79% chance of a daily crash that severe.

And there’s no reason to believe that the frequency of future crashes will be significantly higher. Xavier Gabaix, a finance professor at New York University, has derived a crash-frequency formula that he believes captures a universal trait of all markets, not just equity markets or those in the U.S. According to that formula, the odds of a 12.8% crash in any given six-month period are 0.92%, almost as low as the actual frequency in the U.S. stock market over the last century.

This means that the average investor over the last three decades has believed a severe crash to be more than 24 times more likely than U.S. history would suggest, and that investors currently believe the risks to be 28 times more likely.”

 

Whoa! Are investors idiots, or what? Maybe not. Your editor is among those who happily over-estimate the risk of a crash. He expected one in 1998…and again in 1999…and when it came in 2000, he was as surprised as anyone.

Then, prices went up again. And again, he raised the old black-and-blue Crash Alert flag. In 2005… in 2006… in 2007… finally, in 2008, he got what he expected. And now that the market has recovered again, he expects another one.

 

Investors and Turkeys

Statistically, as Mark points out, the likelihood of a crash coming on any given day is small. But that is a little like telling a turkey not to worry because the likelihood of Thanksgiving is only 1 out of 365.

 

disappearedReally, what are the odds?

Cartoon by billcartoons

 

Eventually, all turkeys and all investors get whacked. And, generally, the longer a market goes without a correction, the more it needs one. Besides, there is something a little fishy about these numbers.

In the last 20 years, there were the aforementioned  sell-offs in the stock market – one in 2000, heavily concentrated in the Nasdaq and the other across the board in 2008. But people don’t think of investing in terms of avoiding the specific day of crash.

Investors don’t really care if a crash happens on a Wednesday or a Thursday. If they think a crash will happen any time within six months, they usually want to stay out of the market – realizing that they can’t time these sorts of things with any precision. So if we look at it in these terms, there were 40 six-month periods in the last 20 years. And crashes happened in two of them – or one in 20.

If investors truly believed that the odds of a crash were 28 times higher than one in 20, they would have believed that there would be a crash every six months. And they would have been out of stocks all the time.

 

shoved 2You don’t want this to happen, even if the chances that it will are fairly small…

Cartoon by American Greetings

 

It’s Like Russian Roulette

Also, the statistics Mark cites do not really gauge the “risk” of a crash. They speak only to the frequency. Imagine the drunken imbecile who puts a bullet into a revolver, spins the chamber, and puts the gun to his temple.

 

PrintStatistically speaking, Lady Luck is likely to be on your side in Russian Roulette…but it’s probably still not the best idea to do it.

Image credit: Ant Baena

 

“There’s only one chance in six that this will kill me,” he says. Statistically, he is right. The odds are in his favor. But what a bad bet! The true measure of risk involves more than just statistical probability. The frequency needs to be multiplied by the gravity in order to get the true picture.

The typical investor is in his 50s. If the next stock crash is followed by a big bounce, like the other two crashes in the last 20 years. He will be glad he paid no attention to our warnings and just kept his money in stocks.

But what if the stock market crash of 2016 is more like the crash of 1929, or the bear market of ’66? He could have to wait 20 years to break even. Or if it is like the crash that happened in Japan in 1990, he’ll still be waiting in 2042.

 

NikkeiThe Nikkei, monthly since 1987. It’s been a long wait, and the waiting continues…most buy and hold investors who got into the market in the late 80s are only likely to reach breakeven in the afterlife – click to enlarge.

 

Chart by: BigCharts

 

Chart and image captions by PT

 

The above article originally appeared at the Diary of a Rogue Economist, written for Bonner & Partners. Bill Bonner founded Agora, Inc in 1978. It has since grown into one of the largest independent newsletter publishing companies in the world. He has also written three New York Times bestselling books, Financial Reckoning Day, Empire of Debt and Mobs, Messiahs and Markets.

 

 

 

Emigrate While You Can... Learn More

 


 

 
 

Dear Readers!

You may have noticed that our so-called “semiannual” funding drive, which started sometime in the summer if memory serves, has seamlessly segued into the winter. In fact, the year is almost over! We assure you this is not merely evidence of our chutzpa; rather, it is indicative of the fact that ad income still needs to be supplemented in order to support upkeep of the site. Naturally, the traditional benefits that can be spontaneously triggered by donations to this site remain operative regardless of the season - ranging from a boost to general well-being/happiness (inter alia featuring improved sleep & appetite), children including you in their songs, up to the likely allotment of privileges in the afterlife, etc., etc., but the Christmas season is probably an especially propitious time to cross our palms with silver. A special thank you to all readers who have already chipped in, your generosity is greatly appreciated. Regardless of that, we are honored by everybody's readership and hope we have managed to add a little value to your life.

   

Bitcoin address: 12vB2LeWQNjWh59tyfWw23ySqJ9kTfJifA

   
 

One Response to “Are Investors Idiots?”

  • wmbean:

    How does one invest when the only option is to chase return? When return on investment is nothing more than a sleight of hand experience then what is the average individual to do? The investment markets have turned into a casino where one knows the value of nothing.

Your comment:

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Most read in the last 20 days:

  • The Hollow Promise of a Statist Economy
      Brainwashed by Academe Not a day goes by that doesn’t supply a new specimen of inane disclarity.  Muddy ideas are dredged up from tainted minds like lumps of odorous pond muck.  We do our part to clean up the mess, whether we want to or not.   No longer in demand: famous Enlightenment philosopher John Locke (1632–1704), who is widely considered the “Father of Liberalism” (classical liberalism, that is). [PT]   These days, individuals, who like John...
  • The Great Debasement - Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      Fiat Money Woes Monday was Labor Day holiday in the US. The facts are that the euro lost another 1.4%, the pound another 1.1%, and the yuan another 0.9% last week.   Assorted foreign fiat confetti against the US dollar – we have added the Argentine peso as well, as it demonstrates what can happen when things really get out of hand. [PT]   So, naturally, what is getting play is a story that Bank of England governor Mark Carney said the dollar’s influence...
  • A Force Impelling People to Buy - Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      Intense Price Action The price action was pretty intense last week, most of it on Friday. The statement by President Trump, not to mention Fed Chairman Powell’s hint of further rate cuts, impelled people to buy gold and silver, whose prices went up $14 and $0.29.   10-year treasury note yield – plumbing new lows for the move... [PT]   Oh, and the interest rate on the 10-year Treasury lost over 5% of its juice on Friday. We said last week:   “…[there...
  • Hong Kong - Never the Same Again
      Freedom Rock Hong Kong ranks among the freest societies in the world. Not only economically, but socially it is a very liberal place. It was marinated in British ways until 1997, much longer than Singapore and other colonies. Then China took it over as a special administered region, which according to the agreement with the UK meant that it was only nominally to be under Chinese control for the next 50 years. It was possibly the only colony in which a vast majority of citizens did not...
  • Suffering the Profanity of Plentiful Cheap Money
      A Case of Highway Robbery What if the savings in your bank account lost 55 percent of its value over the last 12 months?  Would you be somewhat peeved?  Would you transfer some of your savings to another currency?   USD-ARS, weekly. For several years the Argentine Peso has followed a certain pattern: it declines mildly, but steadily, with little volatility for long time periods, and then spikes in crash waves whenever a crisis situation comes to a head. In early 2011, it...
  • A Wild Week - Precious Metals Supply and Demand
      Paying a Premium for a Lack of Default Risk The price action got pretty intense last week! The prices of the metals were up Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. But Thursday and Friday, there was a sharp reversal and the silver price ended the week below its close of the previous week.   The net speculative position in gold futures has become very large recently – the market was more than ripe for a shake-out. [PT]   Silver made a round trip down from $18.35 to...
  • Will the Nikkei Win the Next Olympic Games?
      Listless Nikkei On 24 July 2020 the Olympic Summer Games will begin in Tokyo, the capital of Japan. Olympic Games and Soccer World Cups are among the largest sporting events in the world.  Do you perhaps also think that these events may affect the performance of local stock markets?   Olympic Summer Games 2020 – official logo (left), and a fan-made logo (right) by designer Daren Newman [PT]   Let us examine whether and in what way such major sporting events impact...
  • Don’t Be Another Wall Street Chump
      The Future and the Past Securities and Exchange Commission Rule 156 requires financial institutions to advise investors to not be idiots. Hence, the disclosure pages of nearly every financial instrument in the U.S. are embedded with the following admission or variant thereof:   “Past Performance Is Not Indicative of Future Results”   “Buy and hold”... “The market goes always up”... “No-one can time the market”... “Buy the dip” “With what? You...

Support Acting Man

Austrian Theory and Investment

j9TJzzN

The Review Insider

Archive

Dog Blow

THE GOLD CARTEL: Government Intervention on Gold, the Mega Bubble in Paper and What This Means for Your Future

Realtime Charts

 

Gold in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Gold in EUR:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Silver in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

Platinum in USD:

[Most Recent Quotes from www.kitco.com]

 


 

USD - Index:

[Most Recent USD from www.kitco.com]

 

Mish Talk

 
Buy Silver Now!
 
Buy Gold Now!