After a hiatus of almost a year (the October 2014 pullback, to be exact), I have reprised the VIX and More Fear Poll in an attempt to get some insight into which issues have been responsible for bring fear back into the investing equation and in so triggering the highest VIX spike (53.29) outside of the 2008-09 financial crisis and the #5 and #6 one-day VIX spikes ever on consecutive days.
In the chart below, I have summarized the top ten responses from almost 400 voters, covering 40 countries over the past two days. The question: “Which of the following makes you most fearful anxious or uncertain about the stock market?”
[source(s): VIX and More]
I should note that Tuesday’s responses had “Market structural integrity (high-frequency trading, flash crashes, exchange stability, etc.)” as the #1 concern, but a late flurry of votes today for “China – weak economic growth” put China concerns over the top. Combining Chinese growth concerns with concerns about a bubble in Chinese stocks and/or housing makes it a landslide in favor of all things China. Without too much of a stretch, one could also lump in the likes of currency problems, deflation, low crude oil prices and falling commodities prices in general into a broader China-related bucket and suddenly the China + ripple effect accounts for about 50% of the votes.
As always, I love to see how the American view of the world contrasts with those non-U.S. respondents. This time around, the area most overemphasized by Americans relative to the rest of the world is, in classic Americentric myopia fashion…”U.S. – weak economic growth,” which 8.7% more Americans label as their #1 concern than their non-U.S. counterparts. Conversely, the biggest blind spot for Americans – at least relative to the concerns of the rest of the world – is commodities prices, which Americans underweight by 5.1%. A close second in the American myopia sweepstakes is Chinese bubbles in stocks and/or housing. I do not find the commodities oversight to be surprising, but certainly the relatively low concern about Chinese bubbles is unexpected.
For those who have not seen some of the earlier incarnations of this poll, these date back to 2012 and chronicle a U.S. public that was so obsessed with the fiscal cliff that they did not fully appreciate the gravity of the European sovereign debt crisis.