“Buy the dip.”
Since the Federal Reserve announced its third quantitative easing program in the fall of 2012, the running joke in the US stock market has been that to make money, all you need to do is buy the dip.
But it wasn’t even really a joke: in 2013 and 2014, simply buying the S&P 500 on days it fell, “generated some of [this strategy’s] highest returns on record,” according to Bloomberg.
But in 2015, this strategy has been a disaster.
Bloomberg notes that so far this year, the S&P 500 has had more down days that any year since 2002.
And what’s more, these declines are getting longer, averaging 1.9 days and “buying the dip” is just barely getting investors back to breakeven: the S&P 500 is up just 0.06% on days after a dip.
In January, DoubleLine’s Jeff Gundlach held a webcast outlining his view of the markets and called it “V,” capturing the market zeitgeist that all you need to do to make money is buy the dip because every sell off is followed by a violent rally.
And this was, for a while, mostly right.
The last time the S&P 500 got near a correction, in October 2014, the 9% sell off that took place between late August and mid-October was erased in just a handful of days.
A roughly 5% sell off in December 2014 was also recovered quickly, and when 2014 was over, the S&P 500 was up 11% after a nearly 30% advance the year before.
But now we’re more than halfway through 2015, the stock market is going nowhere, and simply buying the dip isn’t working.
So now what?