Ending the Nightmare
November 8, 2010
So it almost looked like the six-month-long nightmare in funds flowing out of mutual funds that invest in U.S. stocks, long-term, was ending.
As noted in "Filter Failure? The Dow is Back. Funds Are Not." on page 1, almost $80 billion had been pulled out of domestic long-term equity funds since the May 6 Flash Crash, as of Oct. 20.
And in that week, only $218 million got pulled out. That almost seemed like up. That compared to $624 million in redemptions the prior week-and $5.4 billion that was withdrawn in the week ended Oct. 6.
But if you thought down was up, you'd be very disappointed. In the week ended October 27, another $2.9 billion got pulled out.
Then came Nov. 2 and 3.
On Election Day, Americans seemed ready to toss out just about any Democrat that walked and talked (with the exceptions of New York and California). The message seemed to be that President Obama did not do enough in his first two years on creating jobs-with essentially one out of 10 adults (that want to work) out of work.
On the day after, the Federal Reserve said it would buy $600 billion in Treasury bonds, in its effort to drive down long-term interest rates. The way things are going-with mortgage rates already under 5% and the housing industry still in disarray-the Fed might have more effect just handing out bills on street corners to those in need. There's no other place to go, after interest rates hit zero.
Essentially, it does not matter if you saved capitalism, the auto industry, Wall Street and maybe the healthcare industry, over 24 months. It's always the economy, stupid, that really matters.
And if your customers still haven't gotten back in their own coffers the 40% of their net worths that they lost in the last quarter of 2008, if they can't get confidence back in stock markets after the too-complicated-for-anyone-to-understand Flash Crash that drove share prices down to a penny while they weren't watching and if they don't have confidence that any job in this country is safe any more-the outflows will continue.
Now is the time for mutual fund complexes to prove-statistically and vocally-that they're part of the solution. Maybe even come up with some kind of guarantee. Mutual funds should be a lot easier to insure than...credit default swaps. In any event, letting money get put under a mattress is not an answer. That is an indisputable way to guarantee a zero rate of return.