Five Experts Predict the Worst Is Yet To Come in the Stock Market. Here’s Why — And How To Prepare

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We’re officially in a bear market. How long until we’re out of the woods? 

It’s been a tough year for the markets so far. The U.S. stock market had a nearly 4% drop this week — the biggest of the year — that ended in a bear market, which applies whenever there’s a 20% or more drop from a recent high. 

With the Federal Reserve’s highest rate hike in 28 years this week in response to record high inflation, ongoing tensions throughout Europe, and a historically tight housing market already in the first half of 2022, investors are reasonably concerned about how much worse it could get in the coming months.

We asked five experts what they thought about what may happen for the back half of 2022, and how to prepare for the worst.

Expert Stock Market Predictions for the Second Half of 2022

‘I Don’t Think We’ve Hit a Bottom’

Any time the market begins to decline, investors wonder how far down it’ll go — but that’s nearly impossible to predict. 

“When you see your stock portfolio go down 20%, and maybe more, investors are able to get an awakening,” says Thomas Muñoz, financial life advisor at Telemus, a financial advisory firm.  “I don’t think we’ve hit a bottom,” he adds. “From what we’ve seen in the first half of the year, the market has taken an extended downturn beyond 10%.” 

His advice? Keep investing on a regular basis. “Dollar-cost averaging works in environments like this.”  “Always tell yourself why you’re investing.” That’s something to keep in mind when things feel uncertain. 

‘The Market Hates Uncertainty’

The U.S. stock market looks forward and prices in breaking news in real-time. With so much up in the air, it’s hard for investors to make sense of what’s happening day-to-day. That translates to a volatile market situation that will last for a while with more Fed meetings scheduled this year. 

“The market hates uncertainty,” says Linda García, founder of In Luz We Trust. “The current economic situation is something we can’t compare to anything that’s happened, certainly not in our lifetimes,” García says. García suggests not to steer away from your investment plan and keep your eye on the horizon as investing is a long term play.

‘We Could Be Down Another 20%’

With regard to finding the bottom, the next six months are about not creating even more losses in your portfolio as opposed to making your own predictions, says Lori Van Dusen, founder and CEO of LVW Advisors in Rochester, New York. “It’s about knowing what you own.” 

Van Dusen reminds that the only losses you’ll incur is if you decide to sell your investments. 

“We could be down another 20%. That could happen. No one knows the answer to that,” she continues.  But stay diversified and keep investing anyway. “That would be my best advice for the next six months.”

‘I Don’t Think the Worst Is Behind Us’

As volatile as this year has been so far, we should still stay prepared for even more shifting. Consumer spending is changing, and the overall set of factors are completely unique when compared to anything that’s come before. 

“Add the Fed in the mix, finally raising rates, and then the geopolitical issues with the war in Ukraine, which certainly doesn’t help inflationary pressure as far as oil, gas, and food supply. That’s all stuff that we haven’t totally felt yet. Some of that, we’re going to feel into 2023,” says Melissa Bouchillon, certified financial planner and managing partner at Sound View Wealth Advisors in Savannah, Georgia. 

“As we look to the second half of the year, I would expect more volatility. We could see a little run up like we did [before], but the trend and the trajectory is downward. I don’t think the worst is behind us.”

‘There Are Opportunities to Buy’

“When stocks go on sale, everybody wants to sell. It’s at their peak prices that people want to buy in,” says Alyson L. Nickse, partner and wealth manager at Crestwood Advisors in Boston. But if you’re able to keep investing, you’ll benefit from the additional risk you’re taking – both now and through the rest of the year. “The psychology of money can be emotional for investors,” says Nickse.

Investors have been in that mindset for the first half of 2022, even though companies have had attractive valuations. “There are opportunities to buy some really phenomenal companies” right now. If you can buy, “you’re going to be very happy if you continue to hold [your investments].”

How to Prepare for the Second Half of 2022

Our experts agree that it’s likely to be a bumpy road ahead for the remainder of 2022. But, crash or no crash, recession or not, history tells us time and time again this is part of the journey. 

Volatility Is Normal So Hang On for the Ride

It’s hard to really predict what’s to happen in the next six months but for now, experts agree that volatility, sharp ups and downs in the market, is expected. Also as the market changes and flows in the next six months, experts agree it’s best to hold onto your investments and ride the wave. You want to keep an eye on the investment prize and not panic when things get bad.

Pro Tip

There’s likely to be more volatility in the stock market this year, but the key is to stay invested and keep investing regularly. Remember your “why” and stick to your plan. It’s part of the natural investment cycle.

Buy Stocks “On Sale” and Hold Onto Them

Our experts recommend staying the course and trying to keep emotions out of it. The worst thing to do now is sell your investments at a loss and then get back into the market when stocks rise again. 

“Now is the time to buy stocks at more attractive valuations in comparison to where they were a year ago,” says Muñoz. 

If you can hold tight and stay invested, you’ll be that much further ahead when the market recovers. “You can’t afford to not be invested,” says Bouchillon. “Continue to invest. If you have a longer time horizon, you should be excited because you have opportunities to buy at lower valuations.”

Keep Your Portfolio Diversified

The best performing portfolios are the ones that are in the market for a long time, and are diversified. Diversification means having a well-rounded selection of stocks from companies in multiple industries and sectors. That way, if one company or industry dips, the others can pick up the slack. Experts recommend low-cost, broad-market index funds to invest in because they provide instant diversification to preserve your capital. 

Beat Inflation By Investing 

As everyday costs go up because of inflation, it’s important to invest your money. Traditionally, the stock market sees an average annual rate of return of 10% each year. Right now, inflation is almost 9%, the highest in 40 years. So by investing and keeping your portfolio diversified, you can hedge against inflation.