The chart below shows the average investors holding period for stocks from just before the great depression until now. I don’t know if the recent declines are more a reflection of the increase in the use of HFT computers or really echo investor’s (and society in general) shortening attention span. It’s likely a combination of these items and more. Sadly and in spite of the direct correlation with performance, investors time horizons continue to shrink
One of the consequences of such a short investment time horizon is that investors have begun to fear short-term market events and volatility as much or more than the factors that shape prospects for long-term economic and profit growth that drive stocks over the longer term. Ironically short term time horizons add to the volatility, the exact same thing these skittish investors are trying to avoid.