The NYT reports that small investors are believing in the stock market, after recently getting clobbered. Of course, if they’re only getting back in now, they’ve missed a ton of the upside.
What’s more interesting, though, is the way the market has a pro-cyclical effect on the broader economy. Even if the benefit is mainly psychological, the rising market has people spending money again:
Daniel Kelhoffer, 67, an investor in Georgia, visited his son in Germany this summer and cruised the lake near his house in his wooden 1959 Chris-Craft motorboat, encouraged by the steady rise in his monthly account statements. Joseph Fredrick, an investor in Cincinnati, exulted that, largely because of his financial adviser, his portfolio had fallen only 12 per cent since the market tanked.
In North Carolina, a retired Wachovia executive, Robert Paynter, lost tens of thousands of dollars when his stock options and Wachovia shares hit the skids. In October, he told The New York Times that he felt as if he were witnessing his own death with each plunge of the stock market. This summer, he bought a year-old Corvette convertible. And while he and his wife canceled a trip to Europe, they are contemplating a Mediterranean cruise next year.
“I’m feeling a whole lot better,” he said. “As ugly as it got, I never got to a point where I thought I was going to have to go back to work or miss a meal. I can take a lot bigger hit than I thought I could.”
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