• 13 hours Can Toyota's Hydrogen Car Take On Tesla?
  • 2 days Why Universal Basic Income Won't Work
  • 2 days Is This The Real Golden State?
  • 3 days Blockchain Firm Pushes For Ethical Mining
  • 3 days America’s Working Class Are Footing All The Bills
  • 3 days Market Volatility Sends Investors Scrambling Into This Asset Class
  • 4 days How Much Energy Would It Take To Power The Death Star?
  • 4 days A Tweet About Hong Kong Could Cost The NBA $4 Billion
  • 4 days World's Largest Miner Doubles Down On Renewables
  • 5 days Nasdaq Cracks Down On Small Chinese IPOs
  • 5 days Is There Any Reason To Be Bullish About Netflix?
  • 5 days Precious Metals See Record Inflows As Investors Hedge Against Teetering Economy
  • 6 days NYU Professor: Tesla Could Lose 80% Of Its Value
  • 6 days Uber To Offer On Demand Employment
  • 6 days SoftBank Reeling After Questionable WeWork Investment
  • 7 days Opportunity Arises In The Democratic Republic Of Congo
  • 8 days Peter Thiel’s Promised Land For Intellectual Troublemakers
  • 9 days Why Gold Stocks Are Drifting Lower
  • 9 days Copper Miners Feel The Squeeze As Prices Slip Once Again
  • 10 days Uncovering The Universe’s Biggest Secrets
The Problem With Modern Monetary Theory

The Problem With Modern Monetary Theory

Modern monetary theory has been…

Zombie Foreclosures On The Rise In The U.S.

Zombie Foreclosures On The Rise In The U.S.

During the quarter there were…

Another Retail Giant Bites The Dust

Another Retail Giant Bites The Dust

Forever 21 filed for Chapter…

  1. Home
  2. Markets
  3. Other

What Is A Key Ratio Saying About Stock Market Risk?

dice

If you knew (or thought) a bear market in stocks was just around the corner, would you prefer to be invested in 100% stocks or 100% bonds? Since the S&P 500 lost over 50% in the last two bear markets (2000-2002 and 2007-2009), the answer is easy. Therefore, we can learn something about the market's tolerance for risk by monitoring the ratio of stocks to bonds.


Dot-Com Yellow Flag

Since the aggregate bond ETF (AGG) was not trading in 1999, we will use the highly correlated Vanguard Total Bond Market Fund (VBMFX) for this exercise. The chart below shows the performance of the S&P 500 relative to a diversified basket of bonds. Since some investors became concerned about the sustainability of the dot-com bubble in late 1999, the demand for stocks started to wane relative to bonds, which was indicative of increasing concern about stocks and the economy (see slope of orange line below).

$SPX:VBMFX S&P 500 / Vanguard Tot Bond INDX/USMF


Financial Crisis Warning

The same "risk-on vs. risk-off" logic can be applied to the stock market peak in October 2007. The ratio peaked 5 months before the S&P 500 (compare slope of orange and green lines below).

$SPX:VBMFX S&P 500 / Vanguard Tot Bond INDX/USMF


How Does The Same Ratio Look Today?

Rather than waving "be careful with risk" flags in 2015, the same stock/bond ratio posted a new monthly closing high in February. The blue and red moving averages also look much healthier in 2015 than they did in the higher-risk stages of 2000 and 2007.

$SPX:VBMFX S&P 500 / Vanguard Tot Bond INDX/USMF


Investment Implications - The Weight Of The Evidence

Do the charts above provide an "all clear" signal for stocks? No - the present day stock/bond ratio simply tells us the probability of a new bear market kicking off in the next several weeks is quite a bit lower than it was in March 2000 or October 2007. Since the ratio studied here is not foolproof, our market model uses a wide array of inputs. A February 27 video covers the concepts above, as well as other risk measures, in more detail.

 

Back to homepage

Leave a comment

Leave a comment