Bear markets… less bearish

Looking back at the S&P 500 bear markets over the last fifty years or so, an interesting observation springs out of the data:

We looked at the % of up days versus the % of down days in each bull and bear market: the chart shows the difference (% up less % down days).


  1. Each cycle has seen a greater bias towards up days and away from down days (that applies for bull and bear markets).
  2. Bull markets have become increasingly bullish and bear markets decreasingly bearish. So much that, in fact, in the 2007/9 bear market (the biggest since the 1930s) there were “just” 49% down days (versus 47% up days) – a brutal bear market and the market fell less than half the time.
  3. Bear markets with, on balance, fewer down days increase the anxiety and pain of not being in the market, particularly so if the market is flat/up more than it is down.



Just a useful reminder that bear markets increasingly come in “batch form” i.e. with sudden, large declines interspersed with modest gains/stability rather than in a continuous and even process of declines outnumbering gains…. bear markets seem to be progressively less bearish.