Bull market vs bear market: What's the difference?



Investors often talk about the market turning bullish or bearish. What is a bear market and a bull market and how do they affect investment strategy, we will discuss this in this article.

When talking about bull vs bear market, the first thing to note is that they describe how the stock markets are doing and what trend the future trade will follow. You should also keep in mind that market direction is a major factor that has a huge impact on an investment portfolio. Therefore, it is important to understand how each of these market conditions can affect your investments.

What is a trend?

However, before we move on to looking at bull bear stock market, we should define the concept of a trend, as it is at the heart of these terms. A trend is a unidirectional price movement that lasts a certain amount of time. In other words, it is an area of rising or falling price, visually defined by charts.

With the help of trends you can:

  1. predict how the price of a trading asset will change in the future;
  2. Create trading strategies;
  3. Use stock indicators more effectively.

So, a trend in the stock market is a concept that is considered a key figure in exchange trading. All instruments used by the technical analysts are designed to solve one important task - the determination of the trend in order to play the stock market strictly in its direction.

Who are the bulls and the bears?

Bull vs bear definition are the two types of players in the stock market who set the movement of the trend.

Investors are divided into bulls and bears according to their trading strategy. The former beliefs in a rising market and the latter believes in a falling market and make trades based on that. Bears vs bulls stock market is an eternal confrontation that will never end.

Bulls believe that assets - stocks, bonds, currencies, and other financial instruments - will only rise in value. They buy them and wait for the price to rise. Such investors bet on the future, and their transactions are called long positions. The growth of the whole market or individual assets is called a bullish trend.

Bears are confident of falling asset prices. The bear market strategy definition is a drop in the entire market or in individual assets. With leverage, bears can both take an asset from a broker and sell it at the highest possible price. Then they wait for the same assets to fall in value, buy the required amount again, return it to the broker, and take back the difference between the sale and purchase as their profit on the transaction.

There is no consensus, on why stock exchange members were divided into bulls and bears. There is a version that the names were adopted because of the analogy of how each animal attacks its rival. A bear presses his prey with his paw from top to bottom and a bull rises from bottom to top on his horns - the markets behave in the same way when they fall or rise under the pressure of one of the sides.

Another popular view is that the terms took root after the pamphlets of the 18th-century Scottish satirist John Arbuthnot. One of his characters with the body of a man and the head of a bull was named John Bull. He embodied the signs of a typical business Englishman of those times - he wore a cane, tall boots, a hat, and a vest in the colours of the British flag. In one of the pamphlets, John Bull got into a fight with another character, the Bear, while making a stock deal. Brokers immediately picked up this version. 

Be that as it may, the phrase "bearish market vs bullish market" is firmly entrenched in the stock market, and the bull has even become a mascot with sculptures of it placed near some stock exchanges.

Bull and bear markets

It is easy to guess that bullish strategies are replacing bearish ones and vice versa. The same can be said of bull and bear markets - one replaces the other. Each has certain features, and you need to know them if you want to understand whether the stock market bear or bull right now.

A conditional criterion for defining a bull market is a 20% increase in assets from the lows. Bull run stock market is when the economy is strengthening: GDP rises, unemployment vanishes, investor confidence rises, and companies increase profits.

John Templeton, the founder of Templeton Growth Fund and one of the most famous investors of the 20th century, identified four major phases of a rising market. If you want to know the answer to the question- what is a bull stock? -you should read them.

  • Pessimism. Comes at the end of a bear market, when all the worst is over, but the news background is still negative.
  • Scepticism. Negative news are over, but investors are still unsure about future growth. In this phase the market may be in a sideways movement: the price either rises or falls.
  • Optimism. The economy improves and investor confidence changes to positive. Volatility decreases and the market begins to grow steadily.
  • Euphoria. Growth accelerates and investors make easy money. However, once the euphoria ends, the market turns around, shifting to bear power.

When an asset falls 20% from its highs, it is considered to be in a bear market phase. In other words, a bear market is what is the opposite of a bull market. The reasons for the fall may be different, but the main one is the deterioration of the economy. Its signs are rising unemployment, decreasing personal income, and falling corporate profits.

The last time this happened was because of the coronavirus and restrictive measures imposed around the world. Plants and factories stopped, demand for goods and services fell, and mass layoffs began. Markets around the world were in a bearish trend.

The phases of a bear market:

  • Optimism. The market is expensive, but investors are optimistic about the future. By the end of the first phase, the situation changes: investors begin to fix profits and sell assets.
  • A sharp drop. The market falls against the background of declining economic indicators.
  • Speculative phase. Traders pour a lot of money into the market, but the transactions are short-term. Because of this, the asset may rise in price for a short time, but the bearish trend still continues.
  • Slow decline. Investors see that the market is already cheap and buy assets on important positive news and ignore negative news. The latter phase transitions into a bull market.

Bulls vs bears stock market

The stock market reflects the processes taking place in the economy. The world economy has been developing for centuries; new companies and technologies emerged and new markets opened. Therefore, even in spite of military conflicts and crises, in the long term, the markets grow, i.e. they are bullish. 

The bears take the initiative only for a while. But to call them weak would not be correct. That is, it is quite difficult to answer the question of whether the bear and bull strategy is better.

At any moment, a bear can become a bull and a bull can become a bear. There is an opinion that the position of bulls is more honest because bears use insider information about companies and generally "cash in on people's woes". In fact, both are on an equal playing field, where everything depends on the sensitivity and professionalism of the trader or investor. Therefore, before determining investing bull vs bear, it is necessary to understand the strategies of earning in each of these markets. 

How to earn in the bull market? 

Investors have a popular phrase: "Everyone is a genius in a bull market". This is partly true because it is easy to make a profit when most assets are rising. This is a competition not for the fact of it, but for the size: for example, to earn 10 or 30% per annum.

Volatility, on the other hand, must not be overlooked. Markets are volatile, and predicting where the price bottom has occurred and when it will top is challenging. You may either take a chance and try to get the jackpot, or you can take a calculated risk and earn money gradually. Here are a few tactics that, in order of riskiness and profitability, increase riskiness and profitability.

Buy and hold

For many, this is the most traditional and cost-effective technique. The objective is simple: read analysts, look at indicators, identify respectable and long-term enterprises, and then invest in their shares. And no matter what happens in the markets later, maintain them in the portfolio until the finish. This approach is best for those who aren't planning on locking in earnings very soon or living primarily off of their investments. The policy is sound for the future, particularly in the next decades.

Catch corrections

No matter how hard the market is rushing upward, corrections - short periods when asset prices are down a few percent, and sometimes 15-20% - occur inevitably. They usually recover quickly, but some investors wait and buy assets just at such moments because the yields get even higher.

Warren Buffett, for example, not only bought Coca-Cola stock but also took advantage of the correction after the 1987 crisis. The securities were worth about $2.32 then; in mid-October 2021, they were worth $53.94. A rough calculation yields a 2,225% return. If Buffett had bought the stock before the crisis, he would have paid $3.03: the difference is small, and the yield changes catastrophically - 1680.2%.

Trading with “leverage"

This strategy is used not by investors, but by traders - professional stock market participants. The idea is to invest not only one's own money but also borrowed funds. They are referred to as "leverage". 

For example, a trader expects to make money trading in "Apple" stocks. He can invest his own capital, or he can ask his broker for additional capital and multiply his investment by several times, usually by 2-5.

However, it should be remembered that it is impossible to foresee everything in this method. A trader can expect a 10-15% increase in the stock, but it will only grow by 2%. This is still a profitable transaction, but with a bad risk/return ratio: it would be easier to achieve the same outcome by simply buying bonds. For these reasons, loans should be used very carefully. 

Try to realize these strategies using the broad functionality of the WunderTrading platform. 

How to Make Money in a Bear Market? 

If you remember the bear markets definition, it is easy to see that a bear market is the opposite of a bull market. So this is the case when the goal of not losing money is in the foreground. All sorts of assets can collapse - from stocks and bonds to real estate and heavy industry.   


If capital is spread across different assets, the decline in prices won't be as painful. Stocks, bonds, cash, real estate, gold, and bitcoins cannot fall all at once and by much. An investor with a broadly diversified portfolio will lose less than his or her counterpart who invested only in technology or oil and gas companies. So diversifying your portfolio is the first thing you should take care of in anticipation of a bear market. 

Don't panic and don't sell off assets

A bear market doesn't last forever, one day the economy will pick up again and assets will regain their value. So it is best not to part with a good investment for next to nothing.

The losses on the charts and in brokerage applications are virtual, not real. The real losses will become only when the investor sells the securities and sees that the account has less money than he invested. Prior to that, in fact, there are no losses.

Bet on defensive stocks

Some sectors and companies are non-cyclical: they offer products that consumers don't give up on even in a crisis. These are, for example, food, electricity, and medical services.

The earnings of such companies remain relatively stable over the entire business cycle. Such stocks are considered defensive, and they are less likely to decline in a crisis than all others. In short, when the first signs of a bear market appear, it makes sense to focus your portfolio on such companies and sectors.

Hold spare cash and catch opportunities

However, realizing that a bearish trend is about to replace a bullish one, don't despair. Bear markets provide opportunities to buy great stocks at throwaway prices. If you have free money, you can do it. In the days leading up to a recession, it's worth keeping at least 10% in the fiat - so you won't miss out on a good deal that you can make money on later. It will also reduce the overall risk level of the portfolio. But remember, it's best to hold your money in currencies of developed economies.

Short Positions

Short positions are a profitable, but risky way to make money on a decline in exchange rates.

A trader borrows some assets, for example, shares of a company from a broker and quickly sells them at the current price.  The point is that he expects their value to fall in the near future. If the asset falls, the trader buys it at a lower price, returns the borrowed assets to the broker, and receives income from the difference between the sale and purchase amounts. 

The risk is that the share price may rise contrary to expectations. And the investor finds himself in a difficult situation. He has to give the broker the borrowed securities and for this, he is forced to buy them at a higher price than he was selling them earlier.

WunderTrading is a great option for implementing each of these strategies. In addition to its extensive functionality, it offers a popular copy trading crypto strategy that's suitable for both beginners and professionals of any level. Copy the deals of famous traders and make the same profit as they do. 

In conclusion, it can be said that there are no methods, which can show with 100% certainty that the moment of a trend change has come and the price will move in the necessary direction. It is also quite difficult to determine is bull or bear market better. But, using different instruments of fundamental and technical analysis, it is possible to determine the probable development of events. Besides, thanks to such tools it is possible to foresee the trend reversal in advance with certain accuracy and try to make a profit from it.