Fool Poll: When Will the Market Hit Bottom?

Here are a few fun facts for you to ponder:

  • Going back to 1928, six of the top 10 biggest percentage-losing days in the Dow occurred in October.
  • During that same period, five of the top 10 biggest percentage-gaining days occurred in October.
  • From those two sets, three of the 11 days occurred this October. Yowzas!

No doubt about it, markets are completely lost for direction right now. Up 900 points one day, down 700 a few days later. Up 400 points during breakfast, down 400 by lunchtime ... the volatility is nauseating.

When will it ever end? Your guess is as good as mine.

The beginning of this downward spiral started last summer, when we referred to the problem as just the "subprime crisis." Since then, subprime has trickled off of the importance list, and now companies like Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) -- both either debt-free or close to it -- are down more than 40% year to date. It was only back in March that rickety Bear Stearns' bailout bewildered the world; now formidable Wall Street kings like Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS  ) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM  ) are part of the bailout crowd.

In other words, it just keeps getting worse and worse.

The Dow is on track for its worst performance since 1937 -- in the throes of the Great Depression. It's currently down around 33% year to date, sending us back to the same levels it traded at in early 1998. In honor of Japan's folly, we'll call it our "lost decade."

Last month, we asked you how low the Dow will go; 70% said the Dow had already bottomed or would do so at around 7,500. One-fifth said Dow 5,000 was in our cards, while 10% said things would get uglier than that.

Here's today's question: When do you think the Dow will bottom out? Take a moment to weigh in via our Fool Poll below, and throw in your thoughts in the comment section if you care to elaborate.

Fool contributor Morgan Housel doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. JPMorgan Chase is a Motley Fool Income Investor selection. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. The Fool has a disclosure policy.


Read/Post Comments (12) | Recommend This Article (25)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

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  • Report this Comment On November 14, 2008, at 2:45 PM, XMFRelentless wrote:

    Cool article, but the poll is flawed. The best response -- "I don't know" -- is missing.

  • Report this Comment On November 14, 2008, at 3:48 PM, pondee619 wrote:

    70%+/- the bottom is now, or within six months, is much too optimistic for a bottom. I fear the worst. But, on the brighter side, our Government will take an active roll in our recovery.

  • Report this Comment On November 15, 2008, at 2:09 AM, Daretoth wrote:

    The government will take an active role in destroing the economy as they have done since we left the gold standard. What got us into this mess? Artificially low interest rates and too much spending based on the idea that the good times would never cease. So, what do we do? We cut interest rates even lower and continue to print and spend money. The government is simply propping up the problem, so when the fall finally does come it will be from an even greater height. Unemployment must follow inflation and the more the inflation...well you get the idea.

  • Report this Comment On November 15, 2008, at 9:27 AM, CMFSoloFool wrote:

    If you believe in technicals, 800 on the S&P and roughly 8,000 on the DOW are the support levels, so we still have some room on the S&P and we're pretty much there on the DOW. If support levels fail, then it could be a long, long way down from there, possibly 4000 on the DOW or 450 on the S&P (1994/95 levels).

    Let's just pray that isn't the case.

    We're in very precarious territory, and we need some serious consumer sentiment to return and take us out of this depression. In reality, if real-estate doesn't stabilize, people will still continue to hoard cash. This represents people's equity and their biggest asset. If they remain under water in their mortgage, they won't be spending any money on anything else. The gov't bailout should be focusing on real-estate first and foremost.

  • Report this Comment On November 15, 2008, at 11:52 AM, toolzfoolz wrote:

    If history is any indication, October is a very bad month, and it has not bottomed out yet, so it looks like we have at least another year to go on this. For those who think it has already done so, think again. The major players are not finished playing yet, so we have a little to go yet. This is the time to keep a very close eye on things, and made no large sudden moves, but do not stagnate either. Small but smart investing is probably the best way to ride this out and stabilize things right now, but I could be wrong.

  • Report this Comment On November 15, 2008, at 4:20 PM, TimothyVR wrote:

    I think it will be one to two years - but we can bounce along the bottom for a while.

    I think the most interesting question is: When will the secular bear market that began in March, 2000 come to an end? Any bull market that begins in the next year or two will be a cyclical bull inside a secular bear, like the 2003-2007 bull - unless this secular bear is very short.

    I know very little about all of this, but I am reading all I can. It's interesting to consider. The average length is (I think) from 16-17 years, but it can be shorter or longer depending on political and historical developments.

    It seems to me that for anyone who is investing with a horizon of more than five years in mind, this is the most significant question.

    Until the P/E ratio falls below 10 and stays there for a year or so, it seems that we can't be looking at the beginning of a new secular Bull.

  • Report this Comment On November 16, 2008, at 7:30 AM, jbowser12 wrote:

    you're looking for cyclical bear/bull market, not secular. Vastly different meanings.

  • Report this Comment On November 16, 2008, at 10:01 AM, markwg1 wrote:

    Why we are here it's because housing prices were plunged (dropped on avg 35% in US) since summer 2007.

    If you read more news about home sales, in many parts of the US, house sales were already picking up since Oct 2008 (up 120% in San Jose area in Oct 2008 Vs Oct 2007), up 65% in San Francisco, up 45% in Valley, etc.


    Once the home prices recovers (we are now very close at the bottom of housing market), then economy activities (e.g. constructions, etc.) will be picking up again.

    I think Obama should build more public housing (like China) to make housing more affordable to their citizens! so the Americans will have more $$ to spend... instead of wasting their $$ just to pay their cars, mortgages, etc.

  • Report this Comment On November 16, 2008, at 4:07 PM, starbucks4ever wrote:

    Unfortunately, I don't see much chance of Dow breaking the 8000 resistance. If it did...oh that would be a dream. Nothing would be more just and fair than a good market crash sending the Dow to 4000. But the chance of that is very slim.

  • Report this Comment On November 17, 2008, at 3:50 AM, petexeno wrote:

    From the fall of 1929 to the summer of 1932 the Dow lost 89%.

  • Report this Comment On November 19, 2008, at 9:03 AM, eogord wrote:

    It seems way out to pretend, and even make a poll to predict something that is entirely unknowable.

    Why is it so hard to say, 'This we can't know.'

  • Report this Comment On March 27, 2009, at 9:56 PM, calmwinds1 wrote:

    I feel ok but only because of my age(37). I predict the DOW will see bottom at about 5200 before we see a very, very slow recovery(10 years plus). When we see a drop of 300-400 points one day then a rise of 300-400 points over the next few days/weeks it means the bottom has not arrived. It means people still have money to play the market's lows and hence are not broke. When the bottom hits everyone will be broke and unable to invest and make the market rise by 300-400 etc.. over a very short time. We're not broke yet but working towards it very fast. Hang on folks!

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