This column originally appeared on Real Money Pro at 9:21 a.m. EDT on May 14.NEW YORK ( Real Money) --
"If ignorance is bliss, then knock the smile off my face." -- Rage Against the Machine, " Settle for Nothing"According to Merrill Lynch's May global fund manager survey (230 investors with $660 billion in assets under management) released last night, hedge funds are at their highest net long exposure in seven years. Clearly, this dominant class of investors (and others) is now dismissing concerns regarding the macroeconomic backdrop in the U.S. and around the world as poppycock. Many (on this site and elsewhere) are now saying that the tepid global economic growth is something that big-picture economists and strategists worry about, not stock pickers. They go on to say that the disconnect between world GDP and share prices is almost an academic argument. They almost suggest that it is a distraction for worrywarts, who would be better off analyzing company-specific or microeconomic data. While there is some truth to the bulls' arguments, I am less convinced that one should totally ignore the macroeconomic conditions. As I have recently written, slow nominal GDP growth represents a challenge to corporate profits -- the mother's milk of the stock market.