发布者: chrislau2001 | 发布时间: 2008-10-31 08:41| 查看数: 1047| 评论数: 1|

When The Market Throws In The Towel

Wall Street often resembles a blindfolded person looking in a darkened closet for a pair of black shoes that isn't there. With the Dow taking another battering in the past week, another round of futility is under way: the search for 'capitulation.'

There's a belief that the market can hit bottom only when vast numbers of investors finally capitulate, throwing in the towel and selling off the last of their stock portfolios. In theory, if you could spot this moment, you could make a killing buying at the bottom.

There are two problems here. First, capitulation is almost impossible to define. Second, even if you could get a positive ID on capitulation, that might not do you any good. Market lows aren't necessarily marked by tidal waves of frantic selling; just as frequently, stocks bottom out in a dull and lonely atmosphere as trading dries up and most investors no longer even care. Bear markets often end not in capitulation but stupefaction.

'The idea is, 'We'll know we've hit bottom when the fat lady capitulates,'' says finance professor Robert A. Schwartz of Baruch College at the City University of New York. 'But she could just sputter instead, or capitulate more than once, or slowly slide around along the bottom.' Warns Prof. Schwartz: 'On the way down, you get a lot of faux capitulation. And how do you know, until after the fact, whether it is friend or faux?'

Oddly, even market pundits who believe in capitulation admit they can't define it. 'Capitulation is a state of mind, without any specific definition,' says Al Goldman, chief market strategist for Wachovia Securities. 'You can't measure it; it's best identified in hindsight.' Hugh A. Johnson, chief investment officer at Johnson Illington Advisors, says almost wistfully: 'I wish I could quantify it for you so I could say, 'Here, this is capitulation.' But a lot of this is anecdotal. Talk to enough investors and you get an idea of whether we have capitulation.'

Talk to them later, however, and you may get a different idea altogether. What seems like capitulation today will no longer qualify if the market goes even lower tomorrow. Mr. Goldman puts it best: 'I think I'm right that we had capitulation on Oct. 10 [the day the Dow lost nearly 700 points]. But if we keep going down from here, then I would have to say that I was wrong and that it wasn't capitulation.'

This is somewhat like insisting that your pet is a dog until you notice that it is meowing.

In truth, bear markets often end not in a crescendo of selling but a cloud of indifference. For example, take Dec. 6, 1974, a day that will long live in market infamy. The Dow closed at 577.60, down 45% from its levels in January 1973. Total trading volume was a tepid 15.5 million shares; a few days earlier, it had totaled only 7.4 million, tying the lowest level in more than three years. Lucien Hooper, one of the nation's leading security analysts, told The Wall Street Journal that day that the market was 'just waiting the bad times out.' Far from throwing in the towel, most investors weren't even at ringside.

'The most interesting thing about [the 1974 market bottom] was its dullness,' veteran fund manager Ralph Wanger recalled to me. 'It wasn't a crash, it was a mudslide. You came in, watched the market go down a few points and went home. The next day you went through the same thing all over again.' And then, without a moment's warning, the bull woke up and took off. By Jan. 6, 1975, the market had shot up 10%, and a year after that the Dow had risen 54% from its 1974 low.

In short, bear markets sometimes end with a bang, sometimes with a whimper. You're more likely to see a unicorn in your backyard or a chimera in your kitchen than you are to spot an indisputable sign of market capitulation. The obsessive attention so many investors are paying to the huge swings in the Dow suggests that we may not have hit bottom yet; stupefaction seems not to have set in yet. What we can be quite certain of, however, is that stock markets around the world are already on sale. If you have cash to spare, put some to work. If you don't, save up until you do. But don't kid yourself into thinking that you will ever get a clear signal out of such an unclear indicator.


chrislau2001 发表于 2008-10-31 08:41:51



Heath Hinegardner



纽约市立大学柏鲁克分校的金融学教授罗伯特•施沃茨(Robert A. Schwartz)说,这里面隐含的意思是,当投资者最后放弃抵抗时我们自然会知道市场来到了谷底;但是,这个所谓的最后时刻可能只是低点之一,之后可能还有投资者继续抛售,股指或会继续缓慢下滑。这位教授告诫称,在这条下坡路上你可能会遭遇若干伪谷底;如果不是一切都尘埃落定,你怎能知道这到底是真是假?

有趣的是,即便对抄底论深信不疑的市场老手也承认他们不知道低点在哪里。Wachovia Securities首席市场策略师艾尔•戈德曼(Al Goldman)说,投降式抛售是一种思想状态,没有任何具体的定义;你无法对此加以度量,只有回头看时才能最清楚地捕捉到它。Johnson Illington Advisors首席投资长休•约翰逊(Hugh A. Johnson)则几乎是带着渴望的语气说,我希望自己能为你量化市场低点,这样我就可以说:就是这里,在这个点位时投资者已经逃之夭夭了;但这基本上是不可能的。多去和投资者接触,你就会有个大概的概念市场是否已经触底。



事实上,熊市的终点往往不是抛售行为的加剧,而是漠然情绪的升温。举例来说,在定将长留市场黑名单的1974年12月6日,道指收盘报577.60点,较1973年1月重挫了45%。成交量为1,550万股,几天前成交量更是少到了仅有740万股,与三年多以来的最低值持平。美国顶尖证券分析师之一的吕锡安•霍伯尔(Lucien Hooper)当日对《华尔街日报》表示,市场只是在等待艰难时刻过去。认输的投资者蜂拥撤出市场的现象没有发生,他们当中大多数人甚至根本就不进场交易。

老牌基金经理拉尔夫•瓦格尔(Ralph Wanger)回忆说,1974年股市见底时最有趣的事情莫过于市场的迟钝状态;并没有什么激烈的事情发生,整个市场像是一股缓缓流动的泥流,投资者来看看市场情况,看到跌了几个百分点后就各回各家了;第二天再走一遭,循环往复、天天如此。直到有一天,在毫无预兆的情况下,市场恢复生机,重现牛市。到1975年1月6日时股指就上涨了10%,再过一年,道指就较1974年时的低点反弹了54%之多。

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