Bear market? What bear market?

Looking at performance across geographies, factors, and asset classes (ok maybe just corporate bonds versus governments when looking at bonds), post a robust performance month of November, it strikes me as astonishing  that for all of the Bear market talk, the % declines (aside perhaps from Canadian RE and Long Bonds), the magnitude of the losses doesn’t necessarily validate it … And yes, I know, I know, Nasdaq is off close to 30% YTD; and many areas (notably many themes) in the market have sustained much greater damage. Oh, and yes, then there is that whole crypto winter, respectively crypto exchange bankruptcies et al to consider … BUT …

… Looking at it through the Vanguard Canada ETF offering, here are the best and worst performing ETFs for November, respectively Year-to-date:


  • a very strong performance month – relief rally (since fizzling?) on account of a FED now expected to moderate the magnitude of upcoming rate increases? Led by EM (China reopening prospects?); and Ex US / North America
  • on the bond side – the longer the duration the better as far as the bounce … but – is it the same driver we are looking at? or an indication that some are perhaps growing weary of tougher times ahead and just positioning more defensively as a result?
  • On the factor front – both for November as well as YTD, clear domination of Value, followed by Minimum Volatility, and then Momentum


  • while ETFs on the positive side of the ledger YTD are few and far between, noteworthy that Global Value and alongside it Canadian equities are in the black (or close to it in case of VCN)
  • Canadian REITS – is certainly alongside Long duration bonds – an exception with the magnitude of pain despite a decent bounce in November still significant (-20.4% YTD). Long bonds: -18.9%.
  • Broad US exposure – whether S+P500 or Total Market: down 14.4% respectively 15.7% … Bear market “pain”? possibly not yet, or suggesting more pain until we get there (?)
  • Dividend ETFs as a factor – again showing very good relative performance

One ticket solution? Granted, I am not adjusting for risk here … BUT is it just me? Or isn’t it somewhat counterintuitive to see the higher risk asset allocation ETFs outperform their lower risk counterparts?

All equity (VEQT): down 7.02% YTD; Growth (VGROW): down 7.75% YTD; Balanced (VBAL): down 8.45% YTD; Conservative (VCNS): down 9.23% YTD; Retirement Income (VRIF): down 9.85% YTD; and finally Conservative Income (VCIP): down 10.08% YTD. Blame all of that squarely on that rather painful year for bonds I say …

Key takeaway?

Perhaps hard to believe that we have seen everything this Bear has in store for us, seeing that in many prior episodes, the pain inflicted in a bear market far exceeds what 2022 has generated – despite recent record inflation data – which suggests more pain needs to be inflicted to the economy … Which … well is unlikely to not be felt in our equity portfolios …

ICYMI => click HERE for a look at recent AUM developments at Vanguard (Flows, market impact etc)