The stock market went for so long without a serious pullback this year that many strategists thought what it needed most was a vicious whipping. That problem has been solved in just a few days as a steep decline erased a third of the year's gains.
So what should investors do? Move quickly to hunt bargains or slow down to see if the correction goes deeper? Or is it best to do nothing and simply stay the course?
Two top professional investors say it would be a mistake to ignore the transition signalled by the current volatility. But the fund manager and the financial adviser have differing views on what's next. Bob Zenouzi, lead manager of the Delaware Dividend Income Fund, says equities will have a harder time for a while in this changing interest-rate environment, but stocks are still better than bonds, and people should "stay out of fixed income." David Edwards, president of Heron Financial Group, has a more bullish view. "It's time to buy stocks," he says.
Which is the best way to go? To answer that, you need to consider your own financial goals and risk tolerance. Looking at the big picture, it also depends on what follows the Federal Reserve's decision for a phased pullback from its massive cash injections in bond purchases that one Fed official says was "inappropriately timed," and whether an unexpected cash crunch in China's banking sector signals deepening problems for the world's biggest net investor.