The equities market has been flat since July 2014 — five years of almost no returns on share investments. It is thus extremely tough for stockbrokers and others to make the case for their clients to trade. They’d rather be in cash, and if they go onto the market it is only to buy passive investment vehicles such as MSCI World tracker funds. SA equities are a hard sell.

But when retail investors are most bearish, it is often the best time to buy. A recent study on US markets in the Financial Analysts’ Journal found that retail investors are a good contra-indicator for future returns. They are overly miserable after negative returns and overly bullish after positive returns...

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