It is said that while bottoms are events, but tops are processes. Translated, markets bottom out when panic sets in, and therefore they can be more easily identifiable. By contrast, market tops form when a series of conditions come together, but not necessarily all at the same time. My experience has shown that overly bullish sentiment should be viewed as a condition indicator, and not a market timing tool.
I have stated that while I don't believe that the stock market has made its final cyclical top, we are in the late stages of a bull market (see Five steps, where's the stumble?). Nevertheless, psychology is getting a little frothy, which represent the pre-condition for a major top. This is just another post in a series of "things you don't see at market bottoms". Past editions of this series include:
I reiterate my belief that this is not the top of the market, but investors should be aware of the risks where sentiment is getting increasingly frothy. Jeremy Grantham of GMO recently penned an essay calling for a market melt-up. Investors should also remember Bob Farrell’s Rule #4: “When markets go parabolic, they rise further than you think, but they don’t correct by going sideways."
As a result, I am publishing another edition of "things you don't see at market bottoms", as exemplified by the mood captured by this recent magazine ad.