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Bear Markets, Then and Now


How does this recession, and the stock market reaction to it, compare with previous slowdowns? From Citigroup (C), by way of Schroder Investment Management, the results of a study of nine recessions since 1953…

Length of recession:

Best case — 126 trading days

Average — 216

Worst case — 337

Trading days into recession that trough occurred (i.e. stocks hit bottom):

Best case — 30

Average — 108

Worst case — 261

Decline in the equity market from peak to trough

Best case — -13.9%

Average — -25.6%

Worst case — -48.2%

So what about this recession?

We don’t know for sure if it is a recession — and recently many economists have gotten more optimistic that this is just a slowdown. But if it is, many agree the economy stepped on the brakes in December. So far, the market’s trough was on March 10.

By my calculation, from the beginning of December to March 10, there were 67 trading days. From its peak in October to March, the S&P 500 fell 17.9%.

If the U.S. is or was in recession, and if the March 10th lows hold, this would be one of the better — though not the best — stock market performances during a recession in the last 55 years.


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