At Harvest, we are fortunate to have real-time insight into what investment content is trending at any given time, and now is as interesting a period as any to explore what individual and professional investors were thinking about amidst recent bouts of market volatility.
The results may surprise you.
Over the past 6 weeks, we experienced a pronounced bell curve of unique reader visits, with traffic cresting during the weeks of January 15th and 22nd – 2 weeks prior to the sell-off. We saw a 6% week over week growth in unique users during the week of January 15th and nearly 10% into the week of January 22th.
Over that time, the most trending asset class across the community was “Fixed Income” and the highest interest score change was seen in “Cash,” or shorter duration fixed income instruments.
Among Institutional Investors, there was high interest in both “Cash” and 'Equities.” According to the adjacent chart, both asset classes show increases in interest but the trend persists only with cash. The curve gets very steep and then levels off at a relative value of perfect interest. Cash is king after all.
From a geographical standpoint, the focus was mostly on the US with declining week over week interest in China, Japan and Europe.
Product-wise, investors read more content about ETFs than any other product.
Key words that proved popular in both search and content consumption were Federal Reserve, GDP, and Treasuries.
What does this all mean? Here are few thoughts based on our data:
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- Rebalancing. Mid-January is often a time when investors rebalance portfolios. Given the rapid runup in stocks in 2017, it’s not surprising that investors were looking to take some gains off the table and reduce risk by re-allocating into fixed income and cash. Many financial advisors – robo and human – and 401k platforms are set up to do this automatically. Any resulting sell-off in stocks that followed is purely coincidental in our opinion.
- Rising rates. It’s not surprising that our readers are searching for content on the Federal Reserve, GDP and Treasuries. They are all related. The Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate three times in 2017, and the central bank expects to do so three more times in 2018. Rising rates are often indicative of inflation, which eventually makes its way through the economy and GDP growth. After a decade of rates being near zero, one can now open a savings account earning over 1.5% annually, and the 10-year Treasury yield is approaching 3%, potentially attracting deposits away from stock funds.
- VIX is for Clicks? The recent market correction was not without pain, especially for holders of fund products that shorted volatility. “Acceleration” became a new euphemism for blowing up. Searches for these products on our platform, however, were not nearly as frequent as conventional asset classes during the last month. While I have no way of knowing which of our readers might have suffered from trading XIV or SVXY – I’m sorry if you did! – I do think this indicates that our readers are more systematic in their approach to asset allocation.
Regardless of portfolio performance of our community members, the data could infer that our audience is an educated and prepared one, and we are happy to provide the tools to help them reach their objectives.