After a record-breaking year, the stock market has had a bumpy few weeks. The S&P 500 fell nearly 5% in September, then after a rebound in October, it dropped around 4% during the last three weeks of November.
Between soaring inflation and the COVID-19 omicron variant, there are a few explanations for why the market has been shaky lately. But will this volatility lead to a full-blown crash in 2022? Here’s what you need to know.
Just how likely is a market crash?
There are several factors that could point to greater volatility next year. Inflation, for example, is at a record high. According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Consumer Price Index is up 6.8% year over year, its highest since 1982.
In response, the Federal Reserve is aggressively dialing back its bond buying program, which was intended to bolster the economy during the early stages of the pandemic. The Fed is also expected to raise interest rates three times next year to further combat rising inflation.
In addition, the omicron variant is continuing to spread across the U.S., causing concern that we could be entering another wave of the pandemic.
While all of these factors could potentially result in a market downturn, it’s impossible to say for certain what will happen next year. If the stock market is famous for anything, it’s its unpredictability. Case in point: For more than a year and a half, the market has been shattering records — despite a global pandemic, record inflation, a labor shortage, supply chain issues, and other economic concerns.
How to prepare for a potential crash
While it may seem counterintuitive, the best way to prepare for a market crash is to keep investing normally regardless of what happens.
Trying to time the market and sell your investments before a crash is a dangerous move, and it could result in huge losses. If you sell everything and the market doesn’t crash, you’ll miss out on those earnings. Then if you eventually reinvest, stock prices may have increased since you sold. Conversely, if you sell too late after the market is already on a downhill slide, you may be selling your stocks for less than you paid for them.
Your best bet, then, is to continue investing despite any potential stock market volatility. You won’t lose any money until you sell, even if prices plummet. The market also has a 100% success rate when it comes to recovering from crashes, so as long as you’re patient and avoid selling your stocks, you can simply ride out the storm.
The key to surviving market turbulence is to make sure you’re investing in quality stocks. The best investments are the ones with solid fundamentals. This means the companies have strong financials, a competent leadership team, and a history of performing well over time.
While even the strongest stocks may take a hit in the short term, they’re more likely to bounce back after a crash. Regardless of whether the market crashes in 2022 or not, a solid portfolio will ensure you’re as prepared as possible.
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