how to survive bear market: What Is a Bear Market? Definition and How to Invest During One

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how to survive bear market

Even amid high inflation, people still need gas, groceries and health care, so things such as consumer staples and utilities usually weather bear markets better than others. There can be bear markets for a market as a whole, such as in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, as well as for individual stocks. When investors are bearish on an individual stock, that sentiment is unlikely to affect the market as a whole. But when a market or index turns bearish, almost all stocks within it begin to decline, even if individually they’re reporting good news and growing earnings. The investing information provided on this page is for educational purposes only.

how to survive bear market

Losing money is always a hard pill to swallow, but the best way to get through market dips is not by running. Instead, take note of the wide array of recovery options and keep calm. We’re transparent about how we are able to bring quality content, competitive rates, and useful tools to you by explaining how we make money. Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice – straight to your e-mail.

Having extra cash on hand can help you weather a potential financial setback without going into debt or prematurely dipping into your retirement funds. By clicking continue, you will be taken to a website that is not affiliated with Merrill and may offer a different privacy policy and level of security. Merrill is not responsible for and does not endorse, guarantee or monitor content, availability, viewpoints, products or services that are offered or expressed on other websites. High-quality stocks that pay dividends may potentially help to boost your total return when stock prices are falling. Defensive or non-cyclical stocks are securities that generally perform better than the overall market during bad times.

What Is a Bear Market? Definition and How to Invest During One

Essentially, a sustained price dip from recent highs is not the only indicator of an ongoing bear market. There are other economic indicators that investors must still factor in. This is to enable them to learn whether a bear market is playing out or not. Some of the indicators include interest rates, inflation and rate of employment or unemployment, among others. Bear markets occur when there is a general dip in the prices of assets, of at least 20%, from their most recent highs. For example, the current bear market has Bitcoin (BTC) down by more than 55% from its November record high of $68,000.

So, whether you’re reading an article or a review, you can trust that you’re getting credible and dependable information. While we adhere to strict
editorial integrity,
this post may contain references to products from our partners. Investors frequently compare their holdings to the S&P 500 Index, which is not always the appropriate comparative index for an investment strategy.

Over the long run, your cost will “average down,” leaving you with a better overall entry price for your shares. Bear markets tend to last an average of 289 days (9.6 months) with an average loss of 33%. Compare this with the multi-year span of an average bull market (27 since 1928) which lasts an average of 991 days (2.7 years) with an average return of 159%.

They are one way to get some income from your investments while you hold onto them. This may influence which products we review and write about (and where those products appear on the site), but it in no way affects our recommendations or advice, which are grounded in thousands of hours of research. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services. Bear markets represent the most dreaded period in any investment cycle, but there are a few ways to stay ahead and weather the storm.

Selling a put, especially in a bear market, can prove much costlier. As prices decline, there is a good chance the put will be exercised. And even if you end up acquiring a stock you wish to own at an acceptable price this way, chances are high that further bear-market declines will drive it lower. Richard W. Stout III is managing director of Benchmark Wealth Management, LLC, with 25 years of experience in the financial industry. He specializes in financial planning and asset management for individuals, families, and institutions seeking to build and monitor durable and sustainable plans for their financial futures. Rick is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional and holds the Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF®) designation.

how to survive bear market

Your fears may be amplified by stories of how bad things are and how much worse they may get. This can compromise your ability to assess the likelihood of future developments, with the strength of your feelings outweighing the strength of evidence. As asset classes perform differently, your portfolio can drift from its target asset allocation. Depending on how far it drifts, your portfolio may be too risky—or not risky enough—to achieve your goals. A downturn may also mean layoffs, downsizing, and restructuring as companies revise their growth expectations.

keys to getting through a prolonged market downturn

For 401(k) plans, contributions and employer matches typically account for two-thirds of the annual balance increase while investment gains make up one-third. That suggests many 401(k) contributors have the means to rebuild their account balances from bear markets relatively quickly. Finally, if surviving a bear market feels like more than you can handle on your own, consider enlisting the help of a trusted financial advisor like Benchmark Wealth Management. We can help you develop a financial plan and investment strategy to keep you on track towards your financial goals. Additionally, we proactively recommend strategies to help you minimize your tax bill and ultimately achieve financial freedom. According to research from Hartford Funds, the S&P 500 Index has had 26 bear markets since its inception.

how to survive bear market

It may even be common knowledge that during bull cycles, investors are sure of making gains. Whereas in bear markets such as this, an unimaginable amount of pessimism sets in. Just as in your 20s and 30s, there’s also an opportunity to take advantage of the downturn by boosting your contributions to retirement accounts. Lower prices typically mean higher expected returns going forward, so contributing more money during a bear market can help to more than make up for what you’ve lost recently. Bear markets are inevitable for long-term investors, so knowing how to handle them is important if you’re going to be successful.

Diversify your portfolio

An ETF is a fund you can generally buy through a broker in the same way you’d acquire a stock. The difference is that ETFs hold many different assets that can provide more diversified exposure to parts of the market. A bear market often occurs just before or after the economy moves into a recession, but not always. Here’s more on what a bear market means, and steps you can take to make sure your portfolio survives (and even thrives) until the bear transforms into a bull. We believe everyone should be able to make financial decisions with confidence. As an investor, there is probably nothing anyone can do to prevent an unfavorable market condition or the economy at large.

During bear markets, all the companies in a given stock index, such as the S&P 500, generally fall — but not necessarily by similar amounts. If you’re invested in a mix of relative winners and losers, it helps to minimize your portfolio’s overall losses. When they see a shrinking economy, investors expect corporate profits to decline in the near future. A bear market can signal more unemployment and tougher economic times ahead. Investors are understandably frustrated by a miserable year in which stocks are in a bear market and bonds have provided no relief.

  • As earlier explained, there are massive risks that come along with bear markets.
  • The bear market, which is generally defined as a 20 percent decline from a recent high, has unnerved investors who had gotten used to strong returns over the past decade.
  • As with all good plans, focus on your end goal and embrace new opportunities.
  • While every bear market in history was eventually followed by higher prices, plenty of portfolios ruined by bear markets have taken much longer to recover, and some never did.

For long-term investors, a market downturn can simply mean stocks and other investments are on sale. If you’re not already investing, you can take advantage with one of our picks for the best investment accounts. Bear markets tend to be shorter than bull markets — 363 days on average — versus 1,742 days for bull markets. They also tend to be less statistically severe, with average losses of 33% compared with bull market average gains of 159%, according to data compiled by Invesco. There are changes in the investment environment that are likely to last beyond this year’s bear market and may necessitate course adjustments for long-term investors.

When the market drops, it can be tempting to jump out until asset values begin climbing up again. The standard definition of a bear market is when major US stock indexes  – like the S&P 500, Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), or the NASDAQ  – fall by at least 20% or more. A bear market is not so much a technical definition as it is an expression of a particular market sentiment.

The Bankrate promise

If you can, make withdrawals from these safer assets during a bear market to avoid locking in losses you’re experiencing in the stock market. Once the market has recovered, you can resume withdrawals from stocks and start to replenish the investments in safer assets. During a bull market, it’s easy to forget how uncomfortable it can be when your assets decline in value — especially assets that you’re counting on to fulfill a relatively short-term goal. If you’re retiring in a few years, it could be wise to think about dialing back risk, even if it feels as if you’re doing it after the fact. “Investors with longer time horizons could typically withstand market volatility. But if you need to tap investments sooner, you might consider a more conservative asset allocation,” says McGregor.

Bankrate follows a strict editorial policy, so you can trust that we’re putting your interests first. Our award-winning editors and reporters create honest and accurate content to help you make the right financial decisions. Daniel S. Kern, CFA®, CFP®, chief investment officer of Nixon Peabody Trust Company, is responsible for overseeing the firm’s investment process, research activities and portfolio strategy. He previously was the managing director and chief investment officer of TFC Financial Management. Earlier in his career, Dan was head of asset allocation at Charles Schwab Investment Management and managed global and international equity portfolios for Montgomery Asset Management.

While we have a system of ongoing monitoring and review for each and every client, we invite you to reach out any time you have a question. Our continued relationship with you is of utmost importance, and we confidently look forward to brighter days. David Pickler’s Quarterly Market Call gives you an engaging look into the most recent economic trends as well as early market conditions.

  • According to Hartford Funds, more than 26 bear markets have occurred between 1928 and now.
  • Investors who hold bonds can generally expect to receive payments over an agreed-upon time frame.
  • There are changes in the investment environment that are likely to last beyond this year’s bear market and may necessitate course adjustments for long-term investors.
  • You’ll receive an automated email confirming receipt of your request shortly.
  • However, since World War II, the U.S. has experienced a bear market about once every 5.4 years.

Bitcoin is now trading below the $25,000 mark at the time of writing. Bear markets are a normal part of investing, so they shouldn’t come as a surprise. Once you realize that you’re in one, they may actually be close to being over, so do your best not to make any panicked decisions. Maintain a long-term mindset if you’re at the beginning or mid-point of your career and remember that volatility is part of investing in stocks.

That means your funds can continue to grow tax-free throughout retirement until you need them. For example, you may want to consider harvesting losses to offset capital gains and reduce your year-end tax bill. You’ll receive an automated email confirming receipt of your request shortly.

We celebrate their achievements and support them in the times of challenge and adversity, helping them navigate through life’s turbulent waters. Bonds are debts issued by companies as well as states, municipalities and national governments. Investors who hold bonds can generally expect to receive payments over an agreed-upon time frame.


There are important differences between brokerage and investment advisory services, including the type of advice and assistance provided, the fees charged, and the rights and obligations of the parties. It is important to understand the differences, particularly when determining which service or services to select. For more information about these services and their differences, speak with your Merrill financial advisor. Ultimately, bear markets are a good time to revisit your goals and objectives and remind yourself of why you’re invested where you are. If it feels off, a bear market could be an opportunity to readjust your accounts while paying less in capital gains than you would during a bull market.

A robo-advisor is an automated service, usually offered through a brokerage, which can adjust or rebalance your portfolio based on your personal needs. During prolonged bear markets, some companies (mostly smaller or younger) tire out along the way. Whereas other more-established firms with stronger balance sheets can withstand the harsh conditions for as long as necessary.

Mary Davis
My name is Mary Davis. I am successful broker. I want to share my experience with you through tutorials and webinars. For any questions of interest, please contact us by e-mail: [email protected]. +1 973-709-5130


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