A deadly new virus was scary enough, but it became even more frightening when it threatened to vaporize Americans’ retirement accounts.
A year ago this month, the stock market seemed to suddenly realize that the novel coronavirus would devastate the global economy. The Dow Jones industrial average’s 2,000-point drop on March 9, 2020, moved stocks into bear-market territory, and the bears mauled investors with a record 2,997-point loss a week later.
As steep as the selloff was, though, it would prove to be the shortest bear market on record. Stocks hit bottom on March 23, having lost one-third of their value in a little over a month.
If you succumbed to stomach acid and abandoned stocks back then, perhaps remembering previous bear markets that lasted more than a year, you’d soon be filled with seller’s regret. The broad-market Standard & Poor’s 500 average climbed back into record territory by August and is now up more than 75% from its pandemic-driven low.
“The biggest lesson is you can’t predict which way the market is going to turn,” said Richard Ryffel, director of wealth management at Clayton-based First Bank. “Market timing is not a good idea.”