Are Households Smarter Than Institutional Investors?: Ritholtz Chart

Barry Ritholtz is a Bloomberg View columnist. He founded Ritholtz Wealth Management and was chief executive and director of equity research at FusionIQ, a quantitative research firm. He blogs at the Big Picture and is the author of “Bailout Nation: How Greed and Easy Money Corrupted Wall Street and Shook the World Economy.”
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Today's chart comes to us from Torsten Slok, the chief international economist at Deutsche Bank AG.

While rumors of an institutional rotation -- selling equities and buying fixed income -- swirl, we see the opposite behavior from households.

As the chart above shows, the bull market, starting in March 2009 was in large part ignored by individual investors. Equities increased as a percentage of their portfolios primarily because they offered strong gains.

Recently, we have seen more Mom and Pop investors choosing equities and reducing their contributions to fixed income. This hasn't been a problem in the past until their holdings of equities reach a level about 15 percent above the historic average, according to data from the American Association of Individual Investors.

Slok suggests that the rotation by pension funds and insurance companies might "continue to hold rates down for many years." If that's case -- and there are good reasons to doubt that such a trend, if it even exists, will persist -- it only strengthens the argument in favor of stocks over bonds.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Barry L Ritholtz at britholtz3@bloomberg.net