I have been surprised to see the air thick with pessimism in recent weeks. Not so much the stock market, where the sentiment indexes show the bulls dominating the bears by slightly more than 52%. But among the general public.
An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll last week found that 55% of all Americans feel the nation is heading the wrong direction. This is the highest level since January of this year - when the financial crisis was red hot and U.S. President Barack Obama was just entering the White House! That's amazing.
A recent CNBC "Wealth in America" report found more negativity. Negative sentiments were expressed about the economy, stocks, home values, and wage growth. Faith in institutions like the U.S. Federal Reserve, the U.S. Treasury, and the financial sector were very low. President Obama's approval rating has fallen below 50% for the first time.
However, Merrill Lynch & Co. Inc. researchers picked up on this theme, and said in a recent note to clients that 2010 would be the year we exit the "pessimism bubble."
And I couldn't agree more. In fact, there might not be a better time to buy stocks.