Investors unease with the stock market, despite its 40% rise since early March, does not augur well for the mutual fund industry, the Chicago Tribune reports; assets in equity funds remain at half the level they were before the crisis began in late 2007.
Instead, investors continue to move into bonds and bond funds, as well as money market funds and savings accounts. In fact, in the past three years, investors have yanked $235 billion from stock funds, and in that time, the market has lost 56% of its value. Bond funds, meanwhile, took in $60 billion in April and May.
The biggest investors in the stock market now are pension funds, hedge funds and mutual fundsnot individual retail investors. To sustain the recent rally, said Charles Biderman, founder of TrimTabs, the individual investor needs to return to the market. Given how steep their losses have been, however, there are no guarantees that they will gravitate back to stock funds, he said.
As Robert Rodriguez, manager of the FPA New Income Fund, put it: Investors have long memories, especially when they lose money.
Jim Floyd, manager of the Leuthold Undervalued and Unloved Fund, concurred: People Im talking to think of stocks as a dirty word now. If you suggest stocks, its like suggesting you jump off a bridge. They think you are going to take their money and throw it to the wolves.