*Stocks are bought not in fear but in hope. No matter what the stock did in the past it assumes a new life once a purchaser owns it, and he looks forward to a rosy future – after all, that’s why he singled it out in the first place. But these simple expectations become complicated by what actually happens. The stock acquires a new past, beginning from the moment of purchase, and with that past come new doubts, new concerns, and conflicts. The purchaser’s stock portfolio quickly becomes a portfolio of psychic dilemmas, with ego, superego, and reality in a state of constant battle.*The public is most comfortable when they are sitting with losses, because if their stocks are down from where they bought them, they don’t have to worry about selling them. Once he’s got a loss, the typical investor is sure he isn’t going to sell. He bears the lower price because in his mind it is temporary and ridiculous: it’ll eventually go away if he doesn’t worry about it. So selling at a loss becomes absolutely out of the question. And since it is out of the question, and his mind is made up for him, the struggle of any potential decision vanishes and he’s able to sit comfortably with the loss.*To the public mind, selling is NEVER sound. It always conveys the possibility of being wrong twice: first, admitting that they’ve made a buying error; second, admitting that they might be wrong in selling out. And if the stock has actually gone up, they’re tormented: should they take the profit or hold for a bigger one? That creates anxiety, and anxiety breeds mistakes. But as long as they’ve got losses, and never have to decide, they can sit back comfortably and dream instead.*Through the entire market cycle lurks the fear of finalizing the deed of taking if from dream to reality by selling. BY not selling, by tightly holding on to his stocks, the investor never has to face reality.
Selling stampedes tend to last 17 – 25 sessions with only 1 – 3 session counter trend pauses/rally attempts before they exhaust themselves on the downside. It just seems to be the rhythm of the thing in that it seems to take that long for most folks to get bearish enough to sell and make the bottom. While it is true some selling stampedes have lasted 25 – 30 sessions, it is RARE to see one last for more than 30 sessions.
Both the indices of Confidence in the Present Situation and Expectations hit new highs for the cycle in October. In terms of the Present Situation, that index reached its best level since December 2000 while the index for Expectations hit its best level since September 2000. US consumers are a lot more positive about the present than they are the future [Chart 2].
Looking at each of the individual periods where Republicans controlled the Oval Office and Senate while Democrats had the House shows that the averages are a bit misleading. The main reason for the Dow’s weak average return is the 70% decline during the 72nd session of Congress during the midst of the Great Depression. The 99th session of Congress where the DJIA rallied more than 60% also skews the results substantially. With such a small sample size and such varied results, it’s pretty hard to read much of anything into the DJIA’s performance during these periods as a blueprint for what to expect this time around. A better set-up based on historical returns would be either party actually controlling both chambers in [Chart 3] the next session.
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