Ignore the Millionaires
It's been said that the rich are different from you and me. You, I don't know about, but they're definitely different from me.
For starters, they're rich. I'm not. (If I had their dough, I guarantee you I wouldn't be hunting-and-pecking my way into carpal tunnel syndrome. I'd be too busy enjoying my millions. Shall I set up a collection cup for those who'd like to force me into early retirement?)
For secondsies, U.S. millionaires believe that U.S. stocks will return roughly 6% this year on average. That's according to this article, which had its moment of Warhol-esque notoriety earlier this week. Perhaps more amazing that that prediction of tepid returns is this little tidbit: Only 6% of those surveyed think the "market," whatever that is, would decline in 2007.
A few questions come to mind: Should we even care? Does being rich make anyone an expert? I expect a look at the sentiment of the equity-bubble wealthy from 1929, 1987, and the dot-com blowout might provide us with a few guffaws.
Which brings us to another point: How many of these millionaires made their money by investing in stocks? Do these people owe their wealth to working for Hershey (NYSE: HSY), McDonald's (NYSE: MCD), Citigroup (NYSE: C), or Rite-Aid (NYSE: RAD), or to buying those stocks? Or is it something else entirely? (That's what I'd wager.)
One thing is clear. From their average asset allocation -- about 43% in equities -- we can see that they're not putting all their eggs in the 6% growth basket.
Non-millionaires out there might also wish to note that, unlike you, the folks lighting Cuban cigars with $100 bills can afford to pay a heavy toll for their optimism, should it be misplaced. It's not surprising that families with net worth of more than $10 million say they've got a higher tolerance for risk. If they lose $5 million, they won't be reduced to eating chipped beef on toast, though trusty old Jeeves might find himself shining shoes in a grittier milieu.
It should be clear by now that I don't trust the millionaires. Especially since, by another measure, they seem to be getting less bullish.
But if you believe in the wisdom of their dollars, let me leave you with one last heretical thought. If you think the markets will return 6%, why on Earth would you take on the risk, especially when you can get 5% from bank deposits?
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