Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Anatomy of the Bear: Lessons From Wall Street's Four Great Bottoms - Book Review

Anatomy of the Bear: Lessons From Wall Street's Four Great Bottoms

What Is It About?

This book explores the nature of a bear market at its apex (although I suppose nadir more aptly describes). The book inspects four distinct bear market bottoms: August 1921, July 1932, June 1949, and August 1982. This book does not try to time when a bear market begins or ends; rather the book focuses on understanding when all excess in the market has been rung out, or in others words, trying to understand when the bear becomes satiated.

By examining events leading up to each bottom, the structure of the market during that time, and the state of the market and economy at the bottom of each bear, the author presents a balanced examination of similar factors present during all four periods. To do so the author makes the case that while each period has its uniqueness, certain characteristics present during each period examined such that one may develop an analytic process which may assist during a future bear period. Written well, the book presents the material in an interesting manner.

What Did I Get Out Of It As A New Investor?

Bear markets happen. Absent non-participation in the market, all are touched by the bear to some degree. While it is futile to predict when a bear may begin or end, enough similarity exists in the past among the great bear markets to signal opportunities to purchase stocks. This book helps a new investor or trader recognize when unwarranted and continued fear of the bear lacks justification. In short, if one cannot avoid the bear, one can at least hope to co-exist in a manner which does the least damage.

Whether one chooses to describe a market as fundamentally undervalued or technically oversold makes no difference. While it may be difficult to predict when a bear market will end, looking to past bear markets can be useful to discern when the continuing damage caused by the bear will abate. It is at this point when the purchase of equities must be considered. On this point the book is helpful in teaching an investor and trader what factors to examine.

The Good News

An accessible yet through examination of bear markets for the investor or trader which provides valuable information on the history of market bottoms.

The Bad News

Those seeking a simple buy or sell indicator to avoid bear markets may find disappointment with this book; rather, the book excels in helping the reader develop a thoughtful and broad understanding of market bottoms to aid in future analysis.

The Bottom Line

Written in a clear manner and to the point, this book covers the subject in a manner uncommon to the subject. Most works on bear markets focus on the damage a bear does, this book instead focuses on knowing when to take advantage of the positive buying opportunities a bear provides.

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