Beware the Biggest, Baddest Bulls

Barry Ritholtz is a Bloomberg View columnist. He founded Ritholtz Wealth Management and was chief executive and director of equity research at FusionIQ, a quantitative research firm. He blogs at the Big Picture and is the author of “Bailout Nation: How Greed and Easy Money Corrupted Wall Street and Shook the World Economy.”
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A great pair of charts from the boys at Bespoke:

Source: Bespoke Investment Group

Source: Bespoke Investment Group

I find this pair of tables quite informative. They show 10 bull markets ranked by length and strength.

The market after the 1987 crash is the grand winner, lasting an incredible 4,494 calendar days and rising 582 percent. That is almost double the 1949-56 rally, the next closest competitor, in terms of both length (2,607 days) and strength (267 percent).

One caveat about this or any other top 10 list: Be careful about making any grand assumptions. Showing only the top 10 means you are just seeing the outliers. These are the biggest, baddest U.S. bull markets that have powered past the hundreds of other rallies that petered out or eventually rolled over. Charts like this can easily lead you into temptation and false assumptions. The length and strength of the current bull market seems rather tame, indeed almost normal, as part of this list.

It isn't.

The current rally has surprised many professionals with its strength and duration. We shouldn't assume this is normal until we have reviewed all of the data, and not just the biggest winners.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

(Barry Ritholtz writes about finance, the economy and the business world for Bloomberg View. Follow him on Twitter @Ritholtz.)

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Barry L Ritholtz at