The S & P 500 this week took out its mid-June low, a level many investors were hoping would hold as the bear market bottom. The Dow Jones Industrial Average also closed in bear market territory on Monday for the first time since the early days of Covid in 2020, finally joining the S & P 500 and the Nasdaq there. Now what? First, let's get our definitions straight. A close 20% or more below a recent high is considered a bear market for a specific stock or index. The current bear market in the S & P 500 was triggered on June 16 when the index closed more than 20% below its prior peak, which was a closing record on Jan. 3. That previous high then becomes the starting point of the bear market. So the current bear market started in early January and won't be considered over until the S & P 500 closes 20% or more above its bear market low, which can only be determined in hindsight. However, that doesn't keep Wall Street from speculating about when a bottom might occur or when it might have already occurred. For a while, that June 16 low was looking like a good candidate for a bottom. But Monday and Tuesday, the S & P 500 closed lower, setting new bear market lows each day. Notably, the term "rolling bear market" has also been one we have heard in recent years. It describes a market in which various components are experiencing their own declines of 20% or more, even though the overall index manages to hold up. By the way, who decided that 20% was the threshold anyway? We don't have an answer for you, except that it's the arbitrary number designated for the term bear market — just as a 10% or greater decline from a prior high is reserved for a correction in a stock or index. Bear markets past Historically, S & P 500 bear markets have lasted, on average, 370 days with an index decline of roughly 36% from peak to trough, according to our compilation of research. Some recent extreme examples of bear markets include the dot-com bubble burst of 2000, which led to a bear market of about 2½ years and saw the index fall nearly 50%; the 2007-2009 global financial crisis, which coincided with a bear market that lasted just under 1½ years and saw the index collapse over 50%; and the Covid pandemic, which saw a bear market of just over a month and the index fall by a third. Importantly, though there's often a link, not all bear markets coincide with recessions. For example, in 1987, the crash referred to as Black Monday was neither the cause of, nor did it lead to, a recession. And while the economy did then go into a recession from late 1990 to early 1991, the stock market didn't enter another bear market until the aforementioned dot-com bubble popped nearly a decade later. Today's bear market In the current bear market in the S & P 500, now nearly 270 days old, stocks are under pressure as a result of the Federal Reserve and other central banks around the world raising interest rates, Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine, and the economic implications of China'