A happy stock market can conceal big risks

he stock market’s performance appears impressive. The rise of the general index compared to last year is considerable, reaching 42 percent, while the rise since August 1, 2003, is over 50 percent and over 56 percent compared to 2002. This rise is in parallel with the trend in the major European markets and coincides with the government’s intention to sell public corporations’ shares. What matters in all stock markets (and at all times) is the thinking and moves of those who manage big funds. Their choices matter most… It would seem then that big fund managers have a positive view of the stock market. For certain, their decisions apply to a minority of stocks, but in fact this matters for only a few tens of stocks. Even in the mid-cap market the selective rise shows that those involved make actual choices; the rise is not general. Such differentiations are typical of a mature market but conceal big risks. If the enthusiasm catches, the rise of the supposedly serious stocks could indiscriminately spread to others, with the predictable painful consequences. On the other hand, no one can claim with great validity that the market operates efficiently, and so real opportunities are probably few. This disharmony between opportunities and risks is what creates a real market. Fortunately, most investors are abstaining from the stock market, being involved in the real estate market instead. After all, mortgage loans are channeled into the property market, while consumer loans are spent on having a good time. The big players in the stock market seem unruffled but in fact they are not indifferent; they are secretly praying for the spectators to invade the pitch.

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