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NEW YORK ( ETF Expert) -- Far too frequently, commentators focus on one of two potential outcomes.
For example, one writer may explain why riskier assets will navigate the fiscal cliff and rocket substantially higher into the new year. Meanwhile, another may predict the collapse of market-based investing altogether, with the
Dow plummeting 3,000 points before Christmas.
Greed and fear. Bull and bear. Democrat and Republican. Is there really nothing in the middle?
In truth, there are plenty of times when participants simply cannot make up their minds. The light may be yellow, rather than red or green.
Consider the widely followed "fear gauge," the
CBOE S&P 500 Volatility Index(VIX). A fear-mongering forecaster may overemphasize the reality that the VIX has climbed above a shorter-term, 50-day trend line, then insist the end of days is a near certainty.
In contrast, a buy-and-hold blogger may point to the fact there have been six VIX spikes to more than 25 over the last three years, and that the current environment isn't even as "fearful" as the mild correction that occurred this past May.
In essence, people often see what they want to see. And sometimes, making a bold prognostication about a monster rally or a massive selloff makes a headline. Yet VIX volatility is sending mixed signals about the future direction of
S&P 500 stocks.
It's not just the VIX either. The
S&P 500 SPDR Trust(SPY) is hugging its 200-day long-term trend line. Is there enough support? It may depend on the ability of the U.S. government to negotiate a fiscal cliff solution.
Currency ETFs are equally confounding. Specifically, postelection results show a rise in
PowerShares Dollar Bullish(UUP) and
CurrencyShares Yen Trust(FXY), a sign that might be "bearish" for riskier assets. The decline of emerging currencies and the euro-dollar might even bolster that claim.
At the same time, few currencies are far enough above or below a near-term 50-day trend line to make a definitive call. What's more, the
CurrencyShares Australian Dollar Trust(FXA) often has volatile drops during times of unusual market stress. Yet for the time being, FXA is calm, cool and collected. Give some credit to the
recent economic upticks in Asia.