In real time, corrections always feel like they are the end of the bull market: the price pattern is bearish and the news emphasizes stories about a likely recession, poor forward earnings and geopolitical risks. Yet corrections usually happen every 18 months, and the current one has so far not been especially long or deep.
That is not to suggest that investors be complacent or dismissive of mounting risk. SPX had formed a topping pattern in August, and events since then have only strengthened this pattern. But there is little evidence of the underlying stress that is normally associated with big problems. For all the recent volatility, it is worth noting that the low in SPX was in October, 6 weeks ago. Everything since then has been a hot mess.
This is not a market trying to efficiently discount next year's growth; it's a market mostly driven by fear and emotion.
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The correction from the September all-time high (ATH) is now in its 11th week. Aside from the NDX, all the US indices are now negative for the year. So are treasuries (TLT). What's worked well so far in 2018? Volatility, which is up more than 40% (table from alphatrends.net). Enlarge any chart by clicking on it.