Many individual investors were tiptoeing back into stocks in the spring. Now, they’re running for cover again.
Karen and Roger Potyk, a comfortably retired couple in San Antonio, Tex., had clung to some stock mutual funds despite their anxiety following the financial crisis of 2008. But the renewed market volatility following the “flash crash” of May 6 proved too much to bear.
“We just didn’t want to put up with it any more,” says Karen Potyk. She and her husband sold the last of their stock holdings on May 20, moving the money to bonds, certificates of deposit and bond-like annuities.
Small investors’ faith in stocks, which surged in the 1990s, has collapsed since the technology-stock debacle and the Enron and WorldCom scandals of 2000-2002. The 2007-2009 financial crisis only made things worse. Now, the pullback among ordinary investors means they are a declining force in a market that is increasingly dominated by professionals.