A bear market can be described as a period of declining prices in a financial market. Bear markets can be extremely risky and difficult to trade for inexperienced traders. They can easily lead to great losses and scare investors from ever returning to the financial markets. How come?
There’s this saying among traders: “Stairs up, elevators down.” This means that moves to the upside may be slow and steady, while moves to the downside tend to be more sharp and violent. Why is that? When the price starts crashing, many traders rush to exit the markets. They do that to either stay in cash or lock in profits from their long positions. This can quickly result in a domino effect where sellers rushing to the exit leads to even more sellers exiting their positions, and so on. The drop can be amplified even more if the market is highly leveraged. Mass liquidations will have an even more pronounced cascading effect, resulting in a violent sell-off.
With that said, bull markets can also have phases of euphoria. During these times, prices are increasing at an extreme rate, correlations are higher than usual, and a majority of assets are going up in tandem.
Typically, investors are “bearish” in a bear market, meaning that they expect prices to decline. This also means that market sentiment is generally quite low. However, this may not mean that all market participants are in active short positions. This just means that they expect prices to decline and may be looking to position themselves accordingly if the opportunity presents itself.