The February 18, 2008 issue of Fortune focuses on the current market conditions. On pages 50 and 51, there’s a graph along with some stats on the nine bear markets that have occured since 1950 (using the S&P 500 Index as their gauge). Unfortunately, there’s no link to the graph so I did the next best thing and put together an Excel spreadsheet with the bear market information:
NOTE: I got the bear market dates from the Fortune article but I looked up the index prices on those dates and ran the calculations myself.
According to Fortune, the longest bear market since 1950 was the one that ran from March 24, 2000 through October 9, 2002. That was a 929 day bear market. I had no idea it lasted that long! I definitely felt the drop in the market after the internet bubble burst but the decline didn’t seem that bad to me. It could have been muted by the fact that my wife and I were investing on a regular basis through her 401(k).
Anyway, I wouldn’t let the talk of a bear market scare you. The worst thing you can do is to try to time it. Chances are, if you try to time it, you’re emotions will take control and we all know what can happen when the heart rules the mind.