Bull Market vs Bear Market

Difference Between Bull and Bear Market

Bull market refers to optimistic movement in stock market which means share prices rise, there is downfall in unemployment and economy is good whereas bear market refers to pessimistic movement in market which indicates that share price is falling, there is high unemployment and recession is approaching which means bull market is opposite to bear market.

The stock market of any country in the world is like a heartbeat, which is volatile throughout, depending on various circumstances. The market will thus go either up or down, which in financial terms is referred to as a ‘Bull Market’ when the general market scenario is upbeat, and the stock market is rising. On the other hand, if the market is moving downwards, it is referred to as a ‘Bear Market.’ The terminologies are applicable from the way in each of these animals attack their opponents. In respective scenarios, the bull will thrust its horns in the air, whereas a bear will stamp its paws down on its prey.

A bull market is when the economy is very smooth, the GDP of the economy is rising, and job creation is also on the rise. The selection of stocks is more comfortable in such a scenario as the overall health is stable. If an investor is optimistic, then they are said to have a ‘bullish outlook.’

A bear market is the opposite, and the economy is under a recessionary phase over a long period, and stock prices are plummeting rapidly. Stock selection becomes very difficult, and investors focus on making money by selling stocks (short selling)(short Selling)Short Selling is a trading strategy designed to make quick gains by speculating on the falling prices of financial security. It is done by borrowing the security from a broker and selling it in the market and thereafter repurchasing the security once the prices have fallen.read more. Though one with a pessimistic opinion is called someone with a ‘bearish outlook,’ many anticipate such a situation as temporary and indications of the revival stage being around the corner.


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What is a Bull Market?

This situation is defined as a marketplace whereby the prices of listed securitiesListed SecuritiesListed security refers to a financial instrument such as stocks, bonds, derivatives, etc., registered with and readily tradable on the stock exchanges like NASDAQ and NYSE.read more are continuously rising due to favorable macroeconomic scenarios or improved internal circumstances of the firm or sector. In general, the terminology is applicable towards stocks, but it does also get referenced to other asset classAsset ClassAssets are classified into various classes based on their type, purpose, or the basis of return or markets. Fixed assets, equity (equity investments, equity-linked savings schemes), real estate, commodities (gold, silver, bronze), cash and cash equivalents, derivatives (equity, bonds, debt), and alternative investments such as hedge funds and bitcoins are examples.read more such as Bonds, FOREX, and Commodities, etc. Since the laws of demand and supply influence the market, prices in financial marketsFinancial MarketsThe term "financial market" refers to the marketplace where activities such as the creation and trading of various financial assets such as bonds, stocks, commodities, currencies, and derivatives take place. It provides a platform for sellers and buyers to interact and trade at a price determined by market forces.read more will increase when the supply of stock falls and vice-versa. Specific essential facts are:

  • Bull markets are preceded by Investor confidence, positive expectations, and general optimism in the market.
  • In the initial stages, most of the market changes are psychological and may not necessarily be accompanied by robust economic information or Corporate earnings.
  • In the derivatives market, there will be a massive demand for Call options since the overall sentiment is upbeat and positive.

It is to be noted that “Bull Markets” typically have four phases indicating its life-cycle:

Though bull markets offer plenty of opportunities to make money and multiple existing investments, such situations do not last forever. The precise timing of its entry and exit cannot be predicted. The investor must know when to buy and sell for maximizing their gains and attempt to time the market.

One of the popular instances of a Bull market is ‘The Long Bull Market of 1920’s’, which was fuelled by the economic boom and prosperity which bought in Consumerism in the USA, easy availability of credit facilitiesCredit FacilitiesCredit Facility is a pre-approved bank loan facility to businesses allowing them to borrow the capital amount as & when needed for their long-term/short-term requirements without having to re-apply for a loan each time. read more, and increased opportunities for leverage. The situation was so optimistic that stocks were purchased on Margins, i.e., stocks purchased on loaned money.

What is Bear Market?

Such a situation depicts a downward trend in the market over a period of time. The markets have a pessimistic approach, and the prices of assets are either in decline or expected to fall in the immediate future. It will cost investors a lot of money as security prices will fall across the board, and investor confidence is also expected to take a hit.

The characteristics and causes of a bear market will vary as per circumstances. Still, the economic cycles and investor sentiment play a pivotal role in the anticipated direction and how long is it expected to last. Some of the indicators of a weakening economy are:

Bear markets typically have 4 phases of their occurrence:

A prominent example of a Bear Market is the recession, followed by the Wall Street stock market crash of 1929. The investors were struggling to exit the market with sustainable losses getting incurred. For preventing excessive losses, investors continued selling their stocks, causing a further decline and the market collapsed on October 29, 1929, followed by a sustained depression in the economy called the ‘Great Depression.’ The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined by almost 90% through 1932.

Bull Market vs. Bear Market Infographics

Let’s see the top 7 differences between the bull market vs. bear market.


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Key Differences

Despite the terminologies being used in tandem while explaining the concepts, the differences in both these scenarios are stated as below:

  1. The market is mentioned as bulls when the overall market scenario is positive, and the market performance is on the rise. A bearish market is when the performance of the market is on the decline.
  2. In a bullish market, the outlook of the investor is very optimistic, and this is visible from the fact that investors will be taking a long positionLong PositionLong position denotes buying of a stock, currency or commodity in the hope that the future price will get higher from the present price. The security can be bought in the cash market or in the derivative market. The course of action suggests that the investor or the trader is expecting an upward movement of the stock from is prevailing levels.read more in the market. This way, the anticipation is security prices will rise further, and investor has an opportunity to maximize profit opportunities. Conversely, in a bearish market, the market sentiment is quite pessimistic and reflected by investors taking a short positionShort PositionA short position is a practice where the investors sell stocks that they don't own at the time of selling; the investors do so by borrowing the shares from some other investors to promise that the former will return the stocks to the latter on a later date.read more, i.e., selling a security or undertaking a put position with increased anticipation of a falling market. Hence, if the price falls below the contracted price, the option holder will accordingly book a profit.
  3. The economy grows sustainably in a bullish market. In contrast, in a bearish market, the economy will either fall or not grow at a faster pace as in the bullish outlook scenario. In both these situations, an indicator like the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) plays a vital role in giving a bird’s eye view of how the economy performs based on the existing factors.
  4. In a bullish market, the market indicatorsMarket IndicatorsMarket indicators serve as quantitative measures to the traders for predicting the stock market trends and fluctuations with the help of financial ratios and other relevant data so acquired.read more are robust. These indicators are used in technical analysis for forecasting market trends and various ratios and formulas which explain current gains and losses in stocks and indexes and their expected movement in the future. E.g., the market breadth index is an indicator measuring the increasing number of stocks versus those falling. An index of greater than 1.0 indicates a future rise in market indices and vice-versa if it is below 1.0. In a bearish market, the market indicators are not strong. In either of the scenarios, the causes are interdependent, and the cascading effect for the same is observed.
  5. The job market in a bullish situation is very bright, and there are more disposable incomes in the hands of the public in general. However, in a bearish market, the job market is stiff, and efforts are being made to control expenses and rapidly if the situation is not improving.
  6. In a bullish market, the liquidity flowing in the market is vast, and investors continue to pump more funds with increased trading activity and investing in stocks, gold, real estate, etc. but in a bearish market, the liquidity dries up in the system and investors are reluctant before making any commitments. The investments made during a bullish scenario are either sold, preventing further downsides, or holding back to them for future usage. It may give rise to hoarding and black marketing situations.
  7. IPO activities are encouraged in a bullish market since the market sentiments are positive, and investors are willing to invest more money, though, in a bearish market, IPO’s are avoided since investments would not be encouraged, and people will prefer to hold on to the existing positions and liquidity.
  8. International investmentsInternational InvestmentsInternational investments are made outside of domestic markets and offer portfolio diversification as well as risk management opportunities. As a result, an investor can diversify his portfolio and extend his return horizon by making international investments.read more will automatically get encouraged in a bullish market with the intention to expand the existing portfolio. For instance, if India is going through a bullish phase and South Korea decides to make generous investments in India, such a move will encourage the smooth phase for India, enhance the investment made by South Korea, and in turn, boost the economy for South Korea thereby spreading the effects of a bullish market across borders. However, in a bearish market, international investments may not be a favorable option for other countries, and such a move could be postponed to a futuristic date.
  9. A bullish market will encourage the banking sector to reduce the interest rates on loans encouraging business activities to grow, prompting expansionary policiesExpansionary PoliciesExpansionary policy is an economic policy in which the government increases the money supply in the economy using budgetary tools. It is done by increasing the government spending, cutting the tax rate to increase disposable income etc.read more by the Central Bank and the Government. Conversely, in a bearish market, the banking sector will curb the usage of money for emergency situations prompting contractionary policies by the highest authorities. The interest loans would either be held stable or increased.
  10. In a bullish market, the yields on securities and dividends will be low, highlighting the financial strength of the investor and security others can receive on the investment made, whereas, in a bearish market, these yields shall be a very high, indicating requirement of funds and attempting to lure investors by offering higher yields on securities at a later date.

Bull Market vs. Bear Market Comparative Table

Criteria/Item Meaning Bull Market Bear Market
State of Economy GDP growth rate and Performance of the Economy. The high GDP growth is expected, and the industrial output is constantly rising. There is high demand in the economy, leading to a high sales turnover. The low GDP growth is expected, and the industrial output is constantly falling. There is low demand in the economy, leading to a low sales turnover.
Nature of securities gaining or losing. Which securities do well in the State of economy Securities which give higher reward for bearing higher risk do well in such an environment, and therefore Equity is a good investment. Securities that are less risky do well in such an environment because investors have low expectations from the economy and want to keep their money safe. Therefore Gold rises in such an environment, and Fixed deposits and government bonds are more sought after
Interest rate environment Monetary policyMonetary PolicyMonetary policy refers to the steps taken by a country’s central bank to control the money supply for economic stability. For example, policymakers manipulate money circulation for increasing employment, GDP, price stability by using tools such as interest rates, reserves, bonds, etc.read more stance Interest rates are high to keep a check on excessive CAPEXCAPEXCapex or Capital Expenditure is the expense of the company's total purchases of assets during a given period determined by adding the net increase in factory, property, equipment, and depreciation expense during a fiscal year.read more investment to avoid overheating in the economy. Also, when the economy does well, foreign investors get attracted, looking at higher interest rates. Interest rates are constantly reduced by the central bank to stimulate CAPEX investment to boost production in the economy.
Inflation Retail and Wholesale inflation As the consumer demands are higher, and the production is also keeping pace due to favorable production conditions, the wholesale inflation is higher because employees demand higher wages and suppliers demand higher prices. As the production reduces, the goods which are necessary to maintain a standard of living, and have a steady demand see a rise in price. These goods are food, clothing, and FMCG items. Therefore there is a spike in retail inflation.
Exchange rate Performance of domestic currency and impact on net exports The demand for domestic currency increases as more and more foreign investors want to invest in the economy, leading to an appreciation in the currencyAppreciation In The CurrencyCurrency appreciation is a rise in the value of a national currency over the importance of international currencies due to an increase in the demand for domestic currency in a global market, a rise in inflation and interest rates, and flexibility of fiscal policy or government borrowing.read more. It leads to an increase in the cost of production and makes the exports less competitive; therefore, the growth in Imports is higher than that in the Exports, and the net exports may be negative. The demand for domestic currency falls as foreign investors pull out investments from the economy, leading to a depreciation in the currencyDepreciation In The CurrencyCurrency depreciation is the fall in a country’s currency exchange value compared to other currencies in a floating rate system based on trade imports and exports. For example, an increase in demand for foreign products results in more imports, resulting in foreign currency investing, resulting in domestic currency depreciation.read more. It leads to a decrease in the cost of production and makes the exports more competitive; therefore, the growth in Imports is lower than that in the Exports, and the net exports may be positive.
Consumption Consumer’s stance on spending or saving With the economy doing well, the consumption is high because the consumers have greater money in their pockets and pre-pone future consumption with an expectation of continued high economic performance. With the economy not doing well, the consumption is low because the consumers have lower money in their pockets and post-pone current consumption in an expectation that the economy will start doing better in the future.
Fiscal Policy Government’s measures of stimulating the economy Higher taxes are imposed to curtail the amount of disposable income in the hands of the consumer or the producer to prevent the economy from overheating. Taxes are reduced, and subsidies are increased to stimulate the amount of disposable income in the hands of the consumer or the producer to boost the economy.
Unemployment What are the changes in the employment trends When the economy is doing well, the industry is booming, leading to greater employment. When the economy is not doing well, the industrial output is falling, leading to greater unemployment due to an increase in the lay-offs to keep the companies afloat and curb the losses.


Whether the market is going through a Bullish or a Bearish market scenario is not in the hands of an individual or a single factor but large scale factors and other macroeconomic situations. Every investor has to go through such phases at some point since these situations are inseparable. In statistical terms, the market is said to be bullish when the rise of 20% in the performance of the stock market is observed. On the contrary, if the downfall of the stock market of 20% or more is noticed, then a situation of the bearish market is highlighted.

Investors will direct their investments based on various factors that define the outlook through which the market is going through. The entry and exit of the investor get impacted, and hence investor sentiment plays a vital role in defining how long a bullish or bearish outlook exists. One cannot escape the withering of the scenarios, and thus a judgmental call has to be taken before making an investment, and patients should also be held to go through choppy market conditions as well.

Bull Market vs. Bear Market Video


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