10 Things You Must Know About Bull Markets

It's easy to look smart when most stocks are gaining day after day, but how much do you really know about the workings of bull markets?

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There’s a saying on Wall Street: Don’t confuse brains with a bull market.

After all, when most stocks are gaining day after day, it’s easy to look smart. Indeed, the market has been in bull mode for so much of the last decade-plus, it's hard to remember what challenging investing looks like.

Technical analysts differ on the definition of a bull market, but by one measure the S&P 500 confirmed it's in a bull on Aug. 18, 2020, when it closed above its previous all-time high recorded earlier in the year, on Feb. 19.

The S&P 500's longest bull market in history began in March 2009 and ended abruptly in March 2020, clobbered by coronavirus fears. The ensuing bear market cut fast and deep, but bottomed out in late March. About a month after its nadir, the market returned to bull-market territory and just kept chugging along.

Indeed, from the March 23 bottom to Aug. 18's record high, which confirmed the new bull market, the S&P 500 rose a remarkable 52%.

Justified or not, those of us who have stuck around in stocks are probably feeling pretty brainy these days. Still, there’s plenty more to know about extended runs in stocks. Read on to learn 10 things you must know about bull markets.

Dan Burrows
Senior Investing Writer, Kiplinger.com

Dan Burrows is a financial writer at Kiplinger, having joined the august publication full time in 2016.


A long-time financial journalist, Dan is a veteran of SmartMoney, MarketWatch, CBS MoneyWatch, InvestorPlace and DailyFinance. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Consumer Reports, Senior Executive and Boston magazine, and his stories have appeared in the New York Daily News, the San Jose Mercury News and Investor's Business Daily, among other publications. As a senior writer at AOL's DailyFinance, Dan reported market news from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and hosted a weekly video segment on equities.


Once upon a time – before his days as a financial reporter and assistant financial editor at legendary fashion trade paper Women's Wear Daily – Dan worked for Spy magazine, scribbled away at Time Inc. and contributed to Maxim magazine back when lad mags were a thing. He's also written for Esquire magazine's Dubious Achievements Awards.


In his current role at Kiplinger, Dan writes about equities, fixed income, currencies, commodities, funds, macroeconomics and more.


Dan holds a bachelor's degree from Oberlin College and a master's degree from Columbia University.


Disclosure: Dan does not trade stocks or other securities. Rather, he dollar-cost averages into cheap funds and index funds and holds them forever in tax-advantaged accounts.