Learn to love momentumPrashant Vaishampayan
Joachim Clement writes on his blog that the global bull market in equities is seemingly never going to end and investors wonder about what they should do who have missed the boat and only partially invested in the current bull market.
The usual fear is that if they invest now, they might be investing at the top of the market. Another argument is that every asset class seems overvalued. Given extremely low-interest rates, bonds don’t seem a viable option, stocks aren’t cheap either and many alternative asset classes like infrastructure or REITs have become expensive as well. There comes a point when avoiding an asset class on valuation grounds or for fear of an imminent bear market becomes counterproductive. By standing on the sidelines for too long the opportunity costs in terms of foregone returns can become so big that it may take you years and even decades to make up for them.
Value investors and long-term investors, in general, tend to look down on traders, but there are a few things that long-term investors can and should learn from them. First of all, they should learn that time in the market is more important than timing the market. One can only make money if one is invested. But being invested comes with the inevitable risk of drawdowns, which can be short-term in nature like in the US at the end of 2018, or a massive global bear market like in 2008. To deal with these risks of decline in share prices it is important to learn from short-term investors to respect and even love momentum. If price momentum goes against your position for too long, you should sell the position and buy it back at a later point in time when price momentum is more favourable again.
The maximum declines between 1998 and 2019 have also been massively reduced, showing that these momentum-driven strategies can help you avoid severe losses. If you are worried today about high valuations or the possible end of the current bull market, then the most important thing for you is to get into the market with a sensible plan to get out when momentum turns. But this is fine-tuning. The most important thing for investors today is not to be afraid of the bull market.