The Problem with Bull and Bear Markets

The problem with bull markets and bear markets is that it’s hard to tell where they start and where they end until way past the time they switched from bull to bear, or bear to bull. For example, you may read elsewhere this month that on August 23rd we will officially be in the longest bull market in history. But that may not be true. The highest point the market (Dow) has reached happened on January 26th, when it closed at 26,617. It has stayed below that point ever since. At the end of July the market stood at 25, 415, a little over a thousand points below the all-time high. After the high point in January, the Dow did sink to as low as 23,533, an almost 12% drop. That was clearly a correction, but not a bear (-20%). It still remains about 4% below that high point. So, if the market doesn’t breach that January high of 26,617 before the next market bear appears, the next bear will be recorded at starting on January 27th, 2018. That will be well shy of the record length of the bull. However, if the stock market rallies from here and goes on to set more record highs, then the record for the longest bull market in history will certainly be shattered.