Image: Anthony Mirhaydari

Anthony Mirhaydari

Investors have a lot to worry about these days, with political deadlock and economic decay seemingly all but certain. No surprise, then, that fear has wafted over Wall Street on a scale not seen since the 2008 financial crisis.

Stocks are trading at recessionary levels. The returns on Treasury bonds have fallen to 60-year lows, which investors are willing to accept for the comfort of safety. And the world seems convinced that the only investment that will ever rise is a shiny yellow metal.

The thing is, history shows that it's rarely profitable to stampede to "safe havens" like T-bonds and gold with the rest of the herd.

Instead of embracing fear, I think now is the time for greed. An ambitious, confident greed that seeks out opportunity where others see ruin. In fact, while so many fear we're headed for a "Mad Max"-style meltdown, the smart money is already in the hunt and buying.

It's time to put into practice what we've learned over more than a decade of bubbles, scandals and downturns that saw the market go roughly nowhere. (The Dow Jones Industrial Average ($INDU), for example, is trading at levels first reached in 1999.)

Buy and hold doesn't cut it anymore. Rather, buying when things look bleak and getting out in times of euphoria has been the key to getting rich and staying rich.

Safety isn't where you're looking

One big problem, of course, is that the usual safe havens aren't, if you take a broader look at risk.

Think 10-year Treasury notes are a deal at a 1.9% yield? Sure, it's better than a bank account right now. But you'd better hope America's economic stagnation lingers for a decade, because if growth or inflation accelerates, you're headed for deep losses. If growth picks up, inflation-adjusted interest rates will rise and bond prices will fall. You'll lose when you try to sell your bond holdings, and you'll miss out on higher returns elsewhere if you don't. Higher inflation also pushes down bond prices and slowly erodes the value of your principal.

There's also evidence that bonds are becoming increasingly speculative holdings rather than sober investments -- responding in lock step with stock market volatility.

Think gold's a bargain at $1,900 an ounce? It has paid off big, but you'd better hope the dollar doesn't surge against the euro on renewed sovereign debt concerns, as it did in May and is threatening to do now. Precious metals are extremely sensitive to the oscillations of the foreign-exchange market, because silver and gold are seen as alternatives to the dollar's status as the world's most basic currency. Gold is also, relative to stocks, reaching the same high valuation that marked the end of its last major rise.

Instead, as risky as stocks have been lately, they're looking more and more attractive as prices drop. I think the summertime market pullback is nearing its end, clearing the way for a multimonth rally driven by a surge of new fiscal and economic stimulus and a rebound in hiring.

Sound crazy? Wall Street insiders are already preparing for it.

The smart money is buying

Corporate insiders and large commercial traders have been eager buyers of stocks and equity futures at recent, lower prices. In fact, according to Jason Goepfert at Sundial Capital, the latest Commitment of Traders data from the government show that large commercial hedgers (think big Wall Street banks and brokerages, which use hedges to offset client positions) have moved to their second-largest positive positioning ever at $31 billion.

This is a big reversal from what happened as stocks were topping back in May. These commercial traders were net short -- betting on a market decline -- to the tune of $30 billion. Doesn't sound like much. But it's all about relative positioning.