In what should come as no surprise to anyone who has a frontal lobe, yet will come as a total shock to the central planners of the world and their media marionettes, the latest attempt to sucker in retail investors courtesy of a completely artificial 20% stock market ramp over the past 4 months driven entirely by the global liquidity tsunami discussed extensively here in past weeks and months, has suffered a massive failure. Exhibit 1 and only: as ICI shows today, following what is now a 20% ramp in the stock market, not only have retail investors continued to pull out cash from domestic equity mutual funds (about $66 billion since the recent lows in October, the bulk of which has gone into bonds and hard commodities), but the week of February 29, when the market peaked so far in 2012, saw the biggest weekly outflow of 2012 to date, at -$3 billion. Alas, this means that the traditional happy ending for the authoritarian regime, whereby stocks get offloaded from Primary Dealers, and GETCO’s subsidiaries, to the retail investor, is not coming, and soon the scramble for the exits among the so-called “smart money” will be a sight to behold.
The Globe and Mail has some observations on just this:
Retail investors, after gutting it out through years of awful returns, have finally fled. In a normal market, retail participation – Mr. and Mrs. Public trading their personal accounts – should be about 20 per cent. That plunged in November and December, traders say.
It could be that Canadian investors suddenly and finally tired of the relentless volatility, or the long-term returns that have barely cracked positive territory.
Perhaps the most likely candidate for the drop-off is a decline in activity by the same high-frequency traders who helped boost volumes so dramatically in the preceding few years, and who now constitute roughly a third of the market by many estimates. So-called HFTs were drawn to Canada by incentives from markets such as the TSX, and by the opportunity to trade against investors big and small who weren’t wise to their tricks.
The same HFT that Zero Hedge dedicated the early days of its existence into exposing for the massive market, volume, and liquidity manipulating and momentum perpetuating sham it is now perceived by everyone.
As for HFT, after destroying any semblance of a rational market, the participants have finally turned on each other, in the same cannibalization that we had been warning for the past 3 years. In fact, Traders Magazine has dedicated its entire cover story “Fear Factor” to precisely this:
On Wall Street, risk is suddenly a four-letter word. Retail investors can’t stomach it. Pension plan sponsors are allocating away from it.
That’s bad news for stocks. Volume has been dropping almost nonstop for three years and shows no signs of improvement. The situation is worse than it was following the crash of 2000. It’s worse than it was after the crash of 1987. Fearful of the future and still wincing from 2008, investors are moving funds into bonds, commodities, cash, private equity, hedge funds and even foreign securities-anything but U.S. stocks.
“Our bread and butter is the retail investor,” Scott Wren, a senior equity strategist at Wells Fargo Advisors, one of the country’s four largest retail brokerages, told Bloomberg Radio recently. “They’re not jumping into the market. They’re not chasing it. Those who have been around for a little bit have been probably burned twice here in the last 10 years or so. They’re definitely gun-shy. They’re not believers. I’m not sure what it’s going to take to get them back in the market.”
Good work you central planning idiots and 21 year old math PhDs – you finally succeeded in terminally and completely breaking the market.