While TrimTabs reported that investors pulled the largest amount of money from the market in the week ended Wednesday, $19.86 billion, compared to the week after 9/11, when they took $16.5 billion off the table, the majority of the withdrawals are by large institutional investors, Dow Jones reports.
That means that retail investors are riding it out, but many expect that will change, adding to the pain.
Individual investors are “kind of neutral players,” said Milton Ezrati, chief economist at Lord & Abbett. So far, a “sense of fear” has shepherded them to conservative investments, he said. However, “The longer [market turbulence] persists, the more likely they’ll act on their fears,” Ezrati added.
“Mutual fund investors are not panicking,” said Bob Adler, president of AMG Data Services, which reported that investors took $2.37 billion out of funds in the week ended Wednesday. Putting that in perspective, Adler said, it’s a small amount compared to the $151 billion decline in market value in those funds in that time.
“So far, investor departure have been orderly,” Adler said.
Indeed, of the 300 clients that financial advisory firm Greenbaum and Orecchio serves, only 10 have called in the past three weeks to ask about their holdings.
However, other industry experts are picking up the sense that investors are already heading for the exits. “Individuals are not helping,” said Jack Ablin, chief economist at Harris Private Bank. “They are throwing gasoline on the fire.”
One indication of this, he said, is the discounts at which some closed-end funds are now trading, a sign of a sell-off. Thomas J. Herzfeld, president of Thomas J. Herzfeld Advisors, a closed-end fund shop, said he sees discounts in all types of closed-end funds, not just a few, and he believes it’s due not just to institutional investors but also to retail investors.
“Some relatively new investors in closed-end funds, who haven’t been through a serious sell-off, are getting nervous and calling their brokers and saying, ‘Get me out,’” Herzfeld said.