A Flat 2015 is Not Predictive of Coming Bear or Bull Market

Barry Ritholtz, Bloomberg columnist and founder of Ritholtz Wealth Management, points out that 2015 has been essentially flat and, looking to history, concludes: “by itself, a flat market does not tell us very much of anything about the following years’ subsequent returns.” He notes that two opposing views are common in predicting markets after flat returns, one bearish (“flattening indicates that markets are setting up for a major correction or worse”) and the other bullish (“a sideways year is a ‘pause and refresh'”). He observes that either can seem compelling “depending on the subconscious bias you may be seeking to confirm.” Data from 1928 to today shows that, if anything, periods following flat years “tended to be less extreme, with smaller swings in either direction.”