It’s not every day a Wall Street legend promises to “stick to their knitting,” but that’s exactly what John Hussman is going to do if it means steering clear of rampant ‘fear of missing out’ (FOMO) trading.

The president of the Hussman Investment Trust is no stranger to crying “crisis”—a fact which might cause bulls to crow—but unfortunately for bulls, Hussman has been right before. The market vet correctly called the 2000 and 2008 market crises, and is once again sounding the alarm about what the next decade will look like for investors.

Yet unlike others of his ilk—Marc Rowan’s Apollo Management and Morgan Stanley to name a few—Hussman isn’t placing the blame solely on the shoulders of an AI “bubble.” Instead, he is holding investors to account, who he believes are piling into shares with little interest in valuations, solely motivated by a fear of missing out.

“Even though the S&P 500 and Nasdaq 100 have struggled to match Treasury bill returns for over two years, investors seem to be developing an excruciating and nearly frantic ‘fear of missing out,’” Hussman wrote in a note. “Lots of pressures are driving that fear: the recent push to nominal record highs, enthusiasm about an economic ‘soft landing,’ an expected ‘pivot’ to lower interest rates, and most recently, euphoria about the prospects for artificial intelligence.”

Soft landing?

Top economists are increasingly confident that the Fed will be able to successfully maneuver a “soft landing”—with Jamie Dimon a notable departure from the general consensus of 80% confidence in this outcome—while approximately 80% of economists surveyed by the Financial Times said they expected to see rate cuts in 2024—again, JPMorgan CEO Dimon isn’t so convinced of this.

Back to Hussman, who agrees that some of the optimism buoying the market is legitimate: AI, for example. This is an area where Dimon and the likes of Mark Cuban are also confident, both having dismissed comparisons to a Dotcom bubble.

Indeed, Hussman writes: “It’s reasonable that some of our largest investments should be related to AI, and they are, though not necessarily those with the largest market capitalizations. My impression is that the Fed will indeed pivot to lower rates late this year, though the pivot may be more consistent with the Fed’s aggressive easing during the 2000-2002 and 2007-2009 collapses than with quantitative easing and the recent zero-interest rate bubble.”

Why? “I do believe that current market valuations, whatever metric one chooses, are likely to be followed by weak-to-dismal 10-12 year total returns and deep full-cycle losses,” Hussman writes.

Deja vu

Hussman’s note also points out that investors still buying into the stock market frenzy have no idea whether they’re buying in at the peak, or whether shares may still climb higher. Across the board, Wall Street titans told Fortune last year they were relatively confident about the continuing performance of the Magnificent 7 (Tesla, Meta, Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Microsoft and Nvidia), a group largely credited for the gains across the S&P500 in recent years.

But Hussman disagrees, saying that although only time will tell, the current market certainly looks like a peak: “We can’t know the future, but it’s straightforward to examine history and do math. Presently, market conditions have a stronger positive correlation with historical market peaks, and a stronger negative correlation with historical market lows, than 99.9% of instances across history.”

The idea that investors might have accidentally–or deliberately—driven share prices beyond the realms of valuation feasibility isn’t a new one. Last year Morgan Stanley’s Mike Wilson wrote that investors had pushed stocks into the “death zone,” a term mountaineers use to refer to altitudes where oxygen is no longer sufficient to sustain human life for an extended period of time.

“Either by choice or out of necessity, investors have followed stock prices to dizzying heights once again as liquidity (bottled oxygen) allows them to climb into a region where they know they shouldn’t go and cannot live very long,” Wilson wrote, according to MarketWatch. “They climb in pursuit of the ultimate topping out of greed, assuming they will be able to ascend without catastrophic consequences. But the oxygen eventually runs out and those who ignore the risks get hurt.”

Yet Wilson was forced to walk back his outlook after the market rally continued into the spring and summer of 2023. In July, Wilson wrote in a note according to Bloomberg: “We were wrong. 2023 has been a story of higher valuations amid falling inflation and cost cutting.”

Undeterred, Hussman insists he’s sitting back from the fever: “If you’re losing your mind and plagued by fear of missing out, it might be that you’re best served with some passive investment exposure in your portfolio. Investors who want a concentrated position in big tech can take a concentrated position in big tech. We need not be involved. Our discipline is just our discipline. We’re not going to abandon it because someone else has FOMO.”

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