As I write, we're around 5% shy of the all-time highs that the S&P 500 set back in 2007. That means that investors aren't clawing at getting back to even with their portfolios. In the history of investing, stocks have only spent a total of around two and a half months higher than where they are now. That has some big psychological implications for anyone who's allocated in equities right now.
And that's not abnormal or unsustainable either. Just take a look at a long-term equity chart. Most investors have spent their entire lives with stocks at or near all-time highs.
Structurally, we're in a good place for money flows from risk-obsessed assets like treasuries to get dumped into stocks. It's already been happening measurably in the last couple of months. There's a whole lot of that dry powder sitting on the sidelines that could fuel stocks in 2013.4. The Fundamentals Are Bullish, Too Fundamentals are the final piece of the puzzle for stocks in 2012. And they too look bullish right now. I read an op-ed the other day that led with a real head-scratcher. I'll paraphrase: "With the rally in stocks we've seen in 2013, you'd think corporate profits were surging, the economy was growing, and everyone who wanted a job had one. That's obviously not the case." It took me a second to compute whether I was reading sarcasm -- because that most certainly is the case. Corporate profits have hit record highs yet again, beating analysts' best guesses this quarter in two of every three earnings calls. Those profits have fueled record cash holdings too. Personal incomes and consumer spending are both up markedly in the last quarter. And while the jobs market may not be on fire, jobless claims have been falling like a rock in recent years (they're now at pre-2008 levels). If those are the stats that'll dictate a rally from a fundamental side, things could be worse. Much, much worse. The bottom line is this: We're in an environment where we could soon have "dartboard market" for stocks. In other words, investors will be able to make money in stocks by throwing a dart at a board covered in ticker symbols. As the old adage goes, everyone's a genius in a bull market.