The CNN Fear and Greed Index hits "Extreme Fear" (but we're not selling...)


A very short bulletin as stocks settle into the close. The S&P 500 peaked September 18th at a record 2,011.18, but since fell 8.5%, which leaves the major average down 6.2% on the quarter and up just 1.6% on the year.

CNN publishes a handy Fear and Greed Index, scaled 0-100 where 0 is "extreme fear," that measures 7 useful measure of investor sentiment. At 3PM this afternoon, every component registered "extreme fear" for a total score of 0. Alas, we only have three years of data from this index, but 0 is the record low. Notice how violently investors switch from "extreme greed" to "extreme fear." Not that much happened over the last three years, but we're confident plenty of investors bought high and sold low.

August 15th, 2011, we published a commentary "Driving Buffalo Over a Cliff!" which addressed a 14% pullback in US stocks that summer. That commentary is worth re-reading tonight, because we refused to be stampeded into selling stocks then, and we refuse to sell now. From the August 2011 low through the September 2014 high, US stocks returned 72.9%.

We don't fear the stock market, which goes haywire far more often than people remember. We fear our clients ordering us to do something stupid, like liquidate their portfolios. Fortunately, our clients have ridden through enough peaks and valleys at this point to be confident that this too shall pass. For any clients or prospects with cash on the sidelines, now would be a good time to invest.