The great euphoria emanating from these near-record-high stock markets is breathtaking. Traders are again convinced stocks do nothing but rally indefinitely. That everything-is-awesome mindset has stunted gold’s latest upleg, since there’s no perceived need for prudently diversifying stock-heavy portfolios. But that psychology can change fast, as we saw a half-year ago. Gold investment roars back as stocks roll over.
The word “euphoria” is widely misunderstood, often confused with “mania”. The latter is when stocks rocket vertically in blow-off tops, and is defined as “an excessively intense enthusiasm, interest, or desire”. The US stock markets certainly aren’t in a mania. At its latest high last Friday, the flagship US S&P 500 broad-market stock index (SPX) had only edged up 1.2% over the past 14.5 months. That’s not parabolic.
The closest thing to a mania seen in recent years was the SPX’s 18.4% surge over just 5.3 months that led into its initial January 2018 peak. Traders were ecstatic about Republicans’ coming major corporate tax cuts, and aggressively piled into stocks. While euphoria accompanies manias, it is entirely different. It is simply “a strong feeling of happiness, confidence, or well-being”. That psychology is universal today.