Stocktake: Bored punters are dabbling in stocks

The Financial Times reported Japan’s five main online brokerages recorded over 500,000 new account in March and April

Americans have been using government stimulus cheques to buy stocks.  Photograph; Getty Images

Americans have been using government stimulus cheques to buy stocks. Photograph; Getty Images

 

Ordinary punters everywhere continue to turn their attention to stock market trading. The Financial Times last week reported Japan’s five main online brokerages recorded over 500,000 new account openings in March and April, while data from Envestnet Yodlee shows Americans have been using government stimulus cheques to buy stocks.

Free trading app Robinhood has already opened three million accounts this year, with more than half being first-time investors, while data from other US online brokerages confirm a similar burst of activity.

One usually sees such patterns in exuberant times, not during an economic crash, but people have time on their hands and can’t bet on sports or in casinos. As Ritholtz Wealth Management’s Ben Carlson notes, people are bored and need something to gamble on.

It’s not a good reason to dabble in stocks, of course, but don’t underestimate the power of a dopamine hit.

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