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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The stock market continues to bounce back and analysts and investors are lining up on opposing sides of the market's big new question — whether stocks have hit the bottom. The one thing they both agree on is that there will be significant volatility ahead.

On one side: The rebound from this recession may come at warp speed because the fall came at warp speed, Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group, tells Axios.

  • The extraordinary speed at which the market has sold off combined with the response from the Fed and government support could mean March 23, when the S&P 500 had fallen 33% from its previous record high to 2191, set the low.

What it means: In a typical recession, economic data slowly start to worsen and often the stock market reacts slowly to the evidence.

  • Only when enough data clearly convince everyone that a recession has arrived does the stock market ultimately suffer a major collapse, and policy officials finally reverse course with "aggressive shock-and-awe policies" to stop the bleeding.​
  • This year, by contrast, "The stock market did not do the normal bear market foreplay — it just went right to the end right away. So did bond spreads, commodities, real yields, and importantly, so did policies," Paulsen says.

On the other side: The damage from the pandemic and nationwide business shutdown is not yet quantifiable, and companies have provided no numbers to suggest that the hits they've taken to their earnings even justify the market being as high as it was on March 23.

  • There has been little in the way of positive economic data and the U.S. may already have lost all 20 million of the jobs the economy gained back during the 11-year recovery from the 2007–2009 recession, Alicia Levine, chief strategist at BNY Mellon Investment Management, tells Axios.
  • "This is an enormous, enormous blow that will take some time to recover from."

Plus, the market's 23% rise since March 23 is actually a contrarian indicator, Levine argues.

  • "Bear markets don’t end when everybody’s looking to buy the dip. Bear markets end when sentiment’s pretty negative and people are rushing out."

The big picture: Bullish investors are starting to dip their toes back into the market, bears are still expecting the worst, and sentiment is being wholly dictated by the latest developments of the coronavirus. That means big moves are likely to continue for some time.

Expand chart
Data: FactSet; Chart: Axios Visuals

The VIX, which tracks the stock market's expectations of volatility based on S&P 500 index options, has been consistently declining from the record high of 85 it touched on March 18 to just over 43 at market close on Wednesday.

  • But even the latest levels are historically high and around triple the market average for the past five years.
  • "The VIX at 45 is telling you that there are 2-3% swings every day," BNY's Levine says.

Go deeper: 1 in 10 Americans believe economy will never return to normal from coronavirus

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - World

UK government: Kremlin has plan "to install pro-Russian leadership" in Ukraine

British Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss. Photo: Gints Ivuskans / AFP via Getty Images

The United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary on Saturday night said the government has "information that indicates the Russian Government is looking to install a pro-Russian leader in Kyiv as it considers whether to invade and occupy Ukraine."

Driving the news: U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne called the intelligence "deeply concerning" in a statement to Axios. The Biden administration has said Russia is actively manufacturing a pretext for invasion and warned that Putin could use joint military exercises in Belarus as cover to invade from the north.

Updated 5 hours ago - Science

This powerful new accelerator looks for keys to the center of atoms

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Nuclear physicists trying to piece together how atoms are built are about to get a powerful new tool.

Why it matters: When the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams begins experiments later this spring, physicists from around the world will use the particle accelerator to better understand the inner workings of atoms that make up all the matter that can be seen in the universe.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Health: FDA OKs antiviral drug remdesivir for non-hospitalized COVID patients — Walensky: CDC language "pivoting" on "fully vaccinated" — Pfizer and Moderna boosters overwhelmingly prevent Omicron hospitalizations, CDC finds.
  2. Vaccines: The case for Operation Warp Speed 2.0 — Teens and adults missed 37 million vaccinations during COVID — Team USA 100% vaccinated against COVID ahead of Beijing Olympics — Kids' COVID vaccination rates are particularly low in rural America — Annual COVID vaccine preferable to boosters, says Pfizer CEO.
  3. Politics: Arizona governor sues Biden administration over COVID funds tied to mandates — Biden concedes U.S. should have done more testing — Arizona says it "will not be intimidated" by Biden on anti-mask school policies.
  4. World: American Airlines flight to London forced to turn around over mask dispute — WHO: COVID health emergency could end this year — Greece imposes vaccine mandate for people 60 and older — Austria approves COVID vaccine mandate for adults — Beijing officials urge COVID-19 "emergency mode" before Winter Olympics.
  5. Variant tracker