Money tends to get shuffled around from place to place and hand to hand.
Within the financial markets the big three boxes are stocks, bonds and cash. When the bets are placed, over time, the retail traders tend to lose and the deep pocketed, well informed institutional traders tend to win.
So by looking at where the retail traders are placing their bets, we can get an idea of where to not place ours.
AAII Allocation Data
The American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) is famous among those who track sentiment for their weekly survey. But they also keep track of several other key data points. Among them is the allocation ratio of their members between cash, bonds and stocks.
From the latest data, AAII respondents have said that they have increased their cash positions to almost a third of their portfolio value. This is the highest cash levels since late 2005 and 2002. To raise the cash allocation, retail investors have sold their equity holdings.
In comparison to the summer of 2007 when the allocation for equities was almost 70%, today it is just above 50%. To find similar levels we’d have to go back to November 2005, summer of 2002 and May of 2003. Each of those instances were great buy points with a long-term time horizon.
But remember, this is as reported by the membership of the AAII. There is no way for them to verify if indeed what their members are reporting about their allocations is true. So let’s take a look at actual fund flow data.
Fund Flows Data
According to AMD Data, July’s money market funds reports net cash inflows totaling $44.402 billion! That is a very large amount for one month.
Back in April, I pointed out the reverse: a massive exodus from money market funds to the tune of almost $80 billion. Since then the average mutual fund investor has consistently increased their cash position - which would tend to lend credence to the AAII survey results.
The market always throws curve-balls to keep things unpredictable and exciting. So remember, retail traders are not always wrong.
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