: Investors have pushed stocks into the death zone, warns Morgan Stanley’s Mike Wilson

by | Feb 20, 2023 | Stock Market

What’s the best metaphor to describe the stock market, that has sent the S&P 500 up 16% from its October lows, and up 6% this year? Morgan Stanley strategist Mike Wilson has turned to the Jon Krakauer best-seller “Into Thin Air,” which chronicles the death of 12 mountaineers trying to scale Mount Everest. The book delves into the death zone, which starts 3,000 feet from the mountain’s summit, an altitude where oxygen pressure isn’t sufficient to sustain life for an extended period.

“Either by choice or out of necessity investors have followed stock prices to dizzying heights once again as liquidity (bottled oxygen) allows them to climb into a region where they know they shouldn’t go and cannot live very long,” says Wilson. “They climb in pursuit of the ultimate topping out of greed, assuming they will be able to descend without catastrophic consequences. But the oxygen eventually runs out and those who ignore the risks get hurt.” Wilson says that when stocks started rising in October, they had much lower valuation, with a price-to-earnings ratio of 15 and an equity risk premium of 270 basis points. The equity risk premium is the difference bet …

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