The generally accepted definition of a bear is a decline of 20% or more in a broad stock market benchmark, such as the S&P 500 Index, over at least a two-month period.
Even though we have been in a recession for more than a year now, since December of 2007, the current bear market actually began last September. In comparison, the average bear market in the 20th century lasted 14 months, with stocks declining an average of 32%, and fully recovering their lost ground in 22 months. Since 1950, there have been nine bear markets, including the current one.
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