What You Need To Know About Recessions And Bear Markets
By Maura Schauss, CFP® and Todd Youngdahl, CFP®
As global markets continue their roller coaster ride due to fears surrounding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), our most recent bull market officially turned into a bear market. But what does that mean? And are we on the verge of another recession like the one we had in 2008?
In light of all these concerns, today we’ll share what you need to know about recessions and bear markets. If you are worried about your portfolio, we understand and are here to help. Feel free to contact our office to get answers to your specific questions.
What Is A Bear Market?
A bear market happens when an overall market benchmark, such as the S&P 500, dips by 20% or more from its most recent high. As we’re seeing firsthand, this is often accompanied by negative investor sentiment and more selling than buying.
What Is A Recession?
A recession is defined as two consecutive quarters of economic decline (emphasis on the word economic). They’re measured using factors such as the employment rate, gross domestic product, bond yield curves, and other factors independent of the stock market.
Economists declare recessions retroactively. For example, the Great Recession wasn’t confirmed until November 2008—11 months after it started.
Bear Markets Vs. Recessions: How Are They Related?
A bear market relates to the stock market. A recession relates to the economy. Contrary to popular belief, the stock market is not the economy. What drives the stock market is investor emotions—which, as we all know, can be fickle. As humans, we have a tendency to be emotional. But, as we’ve illustrated in other pieces we’ve recently sent out, when it comes to your investments, it’s important to keep these emotions in check.
Recessions are the complete opposite. Tangible factors determine the state of our economy. There’s no emotion involved. Which begs the question: Why do people correlate recessions and bear markets?
If you look back on history, recessions and bear markets have usually occurred around the same time. Of the last 11 S&P 500 bear markets we’ve had since 1957, 63.6% came after a recession. The two go hand in hand, but they’re not the same.
Not even highly educated economists can predict a bear market or recession. There’s a lot of speculation that goes on in the news, but it’s just that—speculation.
What Should Investors Do?
The best thing to do as a long-term investor is to find an optimal portfolio that balances your comfortable level of risk and return. The actions you take in the stock market should be directly related to your time horizon and your risk tolerance.
And as many financial experts have advised: Your 401(k) right now is like your face: Don’t touch it. Selling due to fear when the market is down locks in your losses and can do long-term damage to your financial future.
Speak With Your Advisor
Whether you’re new to investing or an experienced investor, it’s helpful to consult with an objective third party during times like this. Human nature causes us all to act out of emotion when our accounts go down. As an independent firm, we put your best interests first. We seek to serve as a support system for our clients, helping them make informed financial decisions that are not driven by emotion.
We’re Here For Your Friends And Family
If you have friends or family who need help with their investments, we are happy to offer a complimentary portfolio review and recommendations. We can discuss what is appropriate for their immediate needs and long-term objectives. Sometimes simply speaking with a financial advisor may help investors feel more confident and less concerned with the most recent market activity.
About Washington Wealth Advisors
Washington Wealth Advisors is an independent registered investment advisory firm serving high net worth families and small businesses. We focus on holistic financial planning and comprehensive investment management. Leveraging our core strengths of unbiased, active investment management together with a detailed annual financial planning capability, we serve your comprehensive investment and financial planning needs.