Santoli: A bear in all but name might soon ease

A trader on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
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Stock market bulls have been like backers of a lousy sports team, making plausible arguments for why a win streak should soon start — predictions that don't survive contact with the opponent.

By this point, half a year into a punishing tailspin, these fans must try to take comfort in the futility itself, hoping that the team's been "bad enough for long enough" to earn it a top draft pick to offer a shot at turning things around.

It's all a bit pathetic, and neutral observers would be forgiven for scoffing. But by several measures of investor sentiment, technical trading extremes and fundamental conditions, the bullish fans do seem finally to have such a chance to enjoy a turn higher for a while.

The context for this prospect is just how thoroughly the market has dismissed the bullish side in three central debates. The bright-side crowd has contended that we're in a nasty bull-market correction rather than a bear market; that the U.S. is not nearing a recession; and that even such a downturn would not approach the brutality of the 2008 meltdown.

To each of these, the markets have effectively answered, "It doesn't matter."

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