The volatility in stocks right now is ‘abnormal,’ says manager of $200 billion pension fund


Investors should be careful as the recent spike in market volatility is far from normal, according to the manager of the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, which has more than $200 billion in assets.

“The last few days have been abnormal volatility,” Christopher Ailman, chief investment officer at CalSTRS, told CNBC during a special aired Thursday night. “The volatility we saw earlier in October and November, I went on and said that was expected. That’s typical when you have a bull market that’s so old and so late in the economic cycle. But the last few days are abnormal because the machines are really picking over more than human beings.”

Ailman’s comments came after another wild session on Wall Street. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 260 points higher on Thursday, erasing a 611-point plunge from earlier in the day. Thursday’s rally also follows a historic day in the U.S. stock market Wednesday, with the bluechip index posting its biggest one-day points gain in history.

Those moves took place after Wall Street logged its worst Christmas Eve performance ever on Monday. “That’s normally a quiet day and that was crazy to see that decline,” Ailman said.

Investors have been on edge lately as they worry about a possible monetary policy mistake from the Federal Reserve, an ongoing U.S. government shutdown, U.S.-China trade talks and a possible economic slowdown.

But Ailman says investors should look at the bond market for clues about the economy rather than stocks.

“Bond yields have held in there,” he said. “The stock-market volatility is just too extreme in this environment.”

Ailman also noted the economy is still “stable.”

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