The current market environment poses a “big psychological quandary,” according to a recent article in Bloomberg.
Contrary to what many might think, it argues, long bull markets are not the easiest times for money managers. “The truth is,” is says, “smart investors don’t trade to maximize expected value; they trade to minimize regret. There is nothing worse than ‘buying high’ and then watching the market trade lower. You feel shame because you know you’re the patsy.”
The article also points out the tendency for investors to be lulled into buying by data, adding that it’s easier to justify buying when data charts seem to reflect, for example, that an index “can’t go any higher.”
So, according to the article, the “smart money” crowd finds itself with “self-doubt and a distrust of anything that appears to be easy money,” citing hedge funds as one group of managers that suffer during bull markets since “nobody is really satisfied with an 8 percent return.” These firms, the article says, are hoping for the market to return to an environment where valuations begin to “make sense”– which, it adds, equates to a bear market.
In the meantime, the article concludes, hedge fund managers are trying to “get by” and “ride things out until sanity is restored.”