The S&P 500 Is At Its High And Yes, That Makes No Sense

rogernusbaum

The S&P 500 hit a new high today despite our still being in the throes of the pandemic and despite most of the current economic data points being worse than they were during the Financial Crisis, with some approaching Great Depression levels. How can this be? Many people attribute it to the Fed's ever increasing asset purchases or their zero percent interest rate policy or how much money has been paid directly to citizens with more likely on the way if Congress ever comes to an agreement.

The Financial Crisis took 18 months to bottom out. The Great Depression swung back and forth in nauseating fashion for many years. So how it is that the pandemic crash found a bottom in just a couple of weeks? It might be the things mentioned above, or not, I don't know and I don't think it matters. The fact is that the market is at a high, repeating a behavior that has occurred many times before; equity markets rise when the shouldn't on a very regular basis.

I have made a few defensive tweaks for clients along the way as a means of trying to reduce volatility because of how bad the story on the ground is, but have remained plenty long so that clients could participate in the snap back. The priority at the outset was not capturing every last basis point but participating in the rally. Anyone back in March would have reasonably looked at their account balance and muttered quietly yikes, or had a stronger reaction. How about now? If you feel relief looking at your balance now, then you participated in the snapback. While that's all fine and good, it still makes no sense to me that the index is where it is and so I continue to want to be less volatile than the market. If we are participating in the lift, if it continues but we have some protection in case the story on the ground every reconnects with the market, then that is exactly where I want the portfolio to be.