On March 31, as the stock market looked unlikely to ever recover from the crash and lawmakers toyed with the idea of closing the exchange, we wrote: “There will never be a requiem for the longest bull market on record, simply because the pessimism will birth a new one before we have the opportunity to mourn its passing.”
April turned out to be the best month for stocks since 1987. Investors fretted about the disconnect between soaring stocks and the still-suffering economy. Our view was that many major markets will fully retrace March losses. “No one believes that stocks may have just entered a new bull market,” we wrote on May 4.
It was all going to plan. As expected, (1) new data revealed that covid-19 is far less fatal than epidemiologists were assuming, (2) the market shrugged off the worst of the economic data despite a second wave of infections, and (3) Wall Street strategists upgraded their year-end targets to catch up with a rally that defied most of their predictions.
But we did something which we’ve come to regret. It is best told through a story from the classic book Reminiscences of a Stock Operator.
Upon recommending stocks to a market veteran, known as Old Turkey, a young investor warned him that the market was too high and he should sell and wait for the inevitable correction. Old Turkey demurred, “When you are as old as I am, you’ll know that to lose your position is something no one can afford. It’s a bull market, you know.”
Ours was a rookie mistake: we advised readers to turn cautious in June and prepare for a correction. But the S&P 500 kept rallying and went on to complete a V-shaped recovery in just 126 trading days