Specifically, if you could get your courage up about the time you felt worst about the markets in 2008, investing in stocks offers some 60 points of upside. It you felt pretty bad about the state of affairs after the dotcom crash in 2000, that was the time to get back in. If you were a real soothsayer, you felt your worst in 2002, when markets were off by some 25%, to be rewarded the following year, when markets returned about 26% for a spread of nearly 50 points. Even if you hit your emotional bottom a little early, say in 2001, you did pretty well in the rebound two years later.
I'm not advocating market timing, which is correctly dubbed one of the world's most difficult feats. I am suggesting that if you are invested in the market, and keep some powder on the side, history shows the time to use it is when things look their worst.
For better or worse, one such opportunity may arrive later this month. Specifically, the current anxiety -- that fiscal cliff legislation was not enough, that a debt ceiling battle is brewing, that Europe will implode, that Europe will not implode, take your pick -- coupled with difficult comparisons during the upcoming earnings season may conspire to deliver what I estimate to be a six to eight point decline in the S&P 500 index during January.
Should this materialize, for better or for worse, it's going to take your sense of emotional well-being right down with it. And once you've got that sinking feeling, you'll know what you're supposed to do.
For the record, and to let you know I'm not just an armchair psychologist, but a real investor and fiduciary, here are stocks and sectors I'll be looking to double down on should the markets, and my mood go south in January.
Cliffs Natural Resources
(CLF - Get Report)
(CSX - Get Report)
Bed Bath & Beyond
(BBBY - Get Report)
(NVO - Get Report)
Food and beverage:
At the time of publication the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.
This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.