What Signals A Bear Market ?

Bear markets (BM) are painful. Since the 50s, US bear markets have resulted in an  average loss of 31% (most painful were Oct-07 at 57%, Mar-00 at 49% and Jan-73 at 48%).

Of course, timing the market is futile and doesn’t help the investor over the long run. It’s more important to have a clear view on the value of any financial asset and seize it when it trades with a margin of safety.

But understanding the market dynamics and the financial environment might be helpful, especially if you want to be able to take advantage of the next downturn.

Goldman Sachs published an in-depth report on the characteristics of bear markets and what signals investors should track to try and anticipate them.

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Low Vol Regime In Perspective

Volatility is the most disturbing factor in financial markets and it’s something people should always keep an eye on. Measured by popular metrics like VIX or VSTOXX, it’s assimilated to the « fear indicator » of investors.

Looking at the long past of the US equity market (S&P 500 in chart below), you can see that volatility goes in regimes that can change widely but rely mainly on macro environment (expansion/recession) and it’s impact on the psychology of investor (P/E or valuation).

Volatility in equity market in perspective

Source: Goldman Sachs

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Eurozone Equities Favored Despite French Election

Investors hold firm to their Eurozone equities despite growing worries about the outcome of the French presidential election, according to the latest poll on investor positioning published by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Investors consider a « Le Pen Win » might produce a 5-10% market correction, but the real risk would be a Europe disintegration in the case of « Frexit », which would have deeper and far more negative implications.

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