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Bears of Different Shapes and Sizes

U.S. bear markets comes in different shapes and sizes. There have been 9 U.S. bear markets since 1920s. 3 bear markets occurred without U.S. recessions (Late-1940s, Early-1960s, and Oct 1987 Crash). 4 bear markets developed before the onsets of U.S. recessions (Late-1960s, Early-1970s, 1980-1982 Volker/Double Dip Bear recession, and 2000-2002 Tech/Telecom Dotcom Crash). 2 were global/extreme bear markets (1929-1932 Great Depression/Stock Market Crash and 2007-2009 Global Financial Crisis).


The current bear decline that started on 2/19/20 to present is now -26.95%. This places this bear market in line with many of the prior bear markets that occurred without U.S. recessions (-28% to -34%). However, if the coronavirus pushes the U.S. economy into a recession it is likely to bring about a deeper decline possibly like the previous bear declines that were accompanied by recession (-27% to 50.5%).


In summary, over the past 91 years U.S. equities market (SPX) have experienced 9 bear markets spanning from 3-months to 37-months and of the magnitude of 27% to 86.1%. Most of the previous U.S. bear markets that were not accompanied by recessions were shorter and less severe than bear markets that led to U.S. recessions (-28% to -34%). The two times that we witnessed severe bear market they were accompanied by financial/credit crisis and global recessions (i.e., Great Depression/Stock Market Crash of 1929-193 and the 2007-2009 Global Financial Crisis). SPX suffered devasting declines of 86% and 57%, respectively.


The current Feb 2020 Coronavirus induced bear market that started earlier in the year has already declined 26.95%. This is one the fastest 20% decline. If this does not lead to an official recession, then SPX can find major support near its Dec 2018 low (2,346.58) and its 38.2% retracement (2,351.91) from 2009-2020. Under this scenario this would translate into a decline of -30% to -31% placing this current as the shortest of bear market declines that did not led to a U.S. recession.


However, if the current Coronavirus induced bear decline led to a U.S. recession and possibly to a global recession then SPX may need to retest its 50-61.8% retracements (2,030/1,708) or -40% to 50%. Under this scenario this would place the current bear near the upper range of prior bear markets with recessions.


Source: Courtesy of StockCharts.com

Source: Courtesy of StockCharts.com

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