Stocks leave March like a lion

Spring is here. Flowers are awakening from their winter slumber and the sweet crack of ball against bat will fill the air in cities both large and small. My cat Mel, who is pushing at least 15, patiently waits at the door for a chance to nab a trophy.

What does a sense of renewal and optimism have to do with the stock market? Everything.

Stocks are at their essence a bet against the future. When people are optimistic, stocks rise and when they are pessimistic, they fall. That's how it works in theory, anyway. As investors who have seen their portfolios bloodied for about two years can attest, the reality is more complicated.