Will Low Volatility Mean Lower Risk Next Time?

Well, it’s official. According to Ned Davis Research, this is now the longest period in history without the S&P 500 experiencing a correction of 3% or more. For those of you keeping score at home, NDR tells us that as of Monday’s close, it has now been 262 market days since the last time the S&P pulled back by at least 3%. The current run breaks the previous record of 256 days set back in 1995.

To put this feat into perspective, consider that since 1928, the S&P has experienced a correction of at least 3% every 22 trading days (or about once a month) on average. It is for this reason that pullbacks of 3% or more are often referred to as “garden variety” affairs.

In case you were wondering (I was), this is also the 4th longest period in history without a 5% correction, the 10th longest stretch without a 10% correction, and the 2nd longest span since early-1928 without a 20% correction (aka a “bear market”) for the S&P 500.

When these fun facts are added to the market’s lofty valuation levels – many of which are either near or above historic highs – it is little wonder that so many financial advisors are nervous about the outlook for the stock market these days.

Sure, the economy appears to be picking up steam. Yes, earnings are strong. It is true that rates are low and inflation doesn’t appear to be a threat. And no, the Fed isn’t likely to go on the war path anytime soon. Thus, it is fairly easy to argue that the market’s underlying fundamentals are pretty darn good.

Yet, investors and advisors alike remain nervous. The bottom line is nobody wants to get fooled again. No one ever wants to watch their 401K turn into a 201K the way they did during the crisis.

So, what have investors/advisors done to try and take less risk during this long bull run? From my seat, it appears they’ve plowed money into what have historically been lower risk plays such as high dividend paying companies and the so-called “low volatility” areas.

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Author: Travis Esquivel

Travis Esquivel is an engineer, passionate soccer player and full-time dad. He enjoys writing about innovation and technology from time to time.

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