With the large-cap-stock focused S&P 500 Index now up 4.8% year-to-date, after its 21.8% jump in 2017 and its rarely interrupted run since the depths of the Great Recession, admonitions regarding the unsustainability of domestic equity market valuations are growing in number and volume. While we cannot argue statements of fact—that the immense gains have left U.S. markets nearly without precedent in regard to valuation—we can argue the implications. Certainly, there is meaning in stock valuations, and a present reading set against investment theory suggests future equity market returns may fall short of historical norms. Even so, the nature of market history suggests even more strongly that no metric, valuation-based or otherwise, can foretell future market movement. We thus continue to believe the best approach to managing exposure to market risk is one that focuses more on levels of market exposure appropriate for individual investment situations, rather than one that seeks to foretell and act in advance of market shifts.
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