When’s the Next Market Crash?

Full disclosure, I don’t know, but don’t stop reading! The thing is, that’s a bad question, or at least the wrong question. No one knows when the next market crash will be. We’re pretty sure there will be another one at some point because that’s how the market works, but instead of trying to figure out when, let’s work from what we know:

1) We know that the market moves based on new news and people’s emotions. Neither of those things are predictable in the future. We don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow, what news will come out. And we especially don’t know how people will feel or how they’ll respond to unknown things in the future. So, we know that we don’t know what the market will do tomorrow or anytime in the future. Make sense?

2) We know that the general stint of the market is up, way up. We know that for people who don’t freak out about the next crash, who instead stay invested through the bumps, the average returns are really amazing (to the tune of 10+% per year!). 

3) We know that when the market does crash it takes an average of about 4 months for it to bounce all the way back. The average crash takes about 4 months to hit the bottom, and 4 months to come back. For those keeping track, that’s a total of 8 months for the average crash. 

4) We know that over the last 93 years (that’s as far back as the super-reliable data goes), 68 of them were positive by an average of 21%. That leaves 25 negative years, which were down by an average of 13%. Who doesn’t want to sign up for those odds!

5) We know that people get real nervous about the market. On average, people jump advisors and funds every 3.5 years. And we know that’s not a winning strategy. 

6) We know that bonds are much less volatile than stocks, but that they also return significantly less than stocks. So, when you’re young, you want to own mostly stocks. You want your money to grow, and crashes don’t matter too much because you’ve got plenty of time to let the market bounce back. If you’re older, you might need more of your money in bonds because the bonds won’t dip like the stocks will in a crash. Bonds can reduce the volatility in your portfolio when you need the funds to be there.

7) We know that good advisors have a profound impact on people’s returns. Instead of encouraging clients to try to figure out when or what is going to happen next, they help clients stick to the plan, even when the market seems scary. 

So we don’t know when the next crash will be. But it actually doesn’t matter, not if you have a good advisor, a good understanding of the market, and a good plan. The timing of next market crash should actually be the least of your worries; but if you must worry, at least worry about something a little more worrisome. 

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