Is the lack of fear on Wall Street something to fear?

Sunni extremists are inching closer to Baghdad. A housing bubble in China is deflating. Russia is massing troops near the Ukrainian border again. Military forces in Egypt and Thailand have staged coups.

In a world suddenly more dangerous, you'd think fund managers and traders would be selling and buying and selling again in a frenzy of second-guessing. Instead, they're the picture of calm and contentment.

People are trading 38 percent less each day than they did four years ago. Prices of bonds and stocks are barely moving day by day. For 46 days in a row the Standard and Poor's 500 index has risen or fallen by less than 1 percent, a state of serenity unmatched since 1995. Then, on June 24, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen told investors the U.S. economic recovery was on track, and things got really dull. A gauge of expected swings in stock prices, known as the "fear index" among traders, sunk to lows not seen since 2007, when stocks began a 2 1/2 year plunge.

Which helps explain why the calm may not last: The lack of fear is spooking some people.

"It's quiet out there," says Robert Buckland, chief global stock strategist at Citigroup. "Eerily quiet."

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