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Recession refers to a significant decline in economic activity. During a recession, stock markets can often experience sharp declines and increased volatility. Several factors can cause recession, such as decreased consumer spending, a rise in unemployment rates, and more. 

This article will explore in depth how the recession and stock markets are interconnected.


What are the causes and implications of recession?

A recession refers to a significant and widespread decline in economic activity within a country or across multiple countries and it can last more than a few months. It is characterized by a sustained period of contraction in various key economic indicators, such as gross domestic product (GDP), employment rates, industrial production, and business investment. 

During a recession, there is a decline in overall economic output, and this downturn extends beyond a short-term fluctuation or temporary slowdown.

The causes of a recession can vary, but they often stem from a combination of factors such as reduced consumer spending, decreased business investment, a decline in international trade, financial crises, or disruptions in specific industries. 

Recessions are typically associated with negative trends in the economy, including falling wages, rising unemployment, lower corporate profits, and a decline in the value of assets such as real estate and stocks. 

Whenever a recession occurs, it implies –

  • Rising unemployment: Recession leads to job losses and higher unemployment rates, causing financial hardships for individuals and communities.
  • Decline in income and wages: Incomes and wages tend to decrease during recessions, reducing purchasing power and contributing to income inequality.
  • Decreased business profitability: Businesses face reduced profitability due to declining demand, leading to cost-cutting measures and potential closures.
  • Stock market declines: Recessions are accompanied by stock market declines and increased volatility, affecting investor sentiment and wealth accumulation.
  • Government deficits and debt: Governments often employ expansionary fiscal policies during recessions, resulting in budget deficits and increased public debt.
  • Impact on the global economy: Recessions can have global spillover effects, including reduced trade, investment flows, and financial contagion, affecting economies worldwide.


How does the recession affect the stock market?

A recession has a directly proportional impact on the stock markets. During a recession (when prices are rapidly falling), the stock market tends to undergo a period of continuous decline and heightened volatility. This happens for various reasons, such as decreased consumer spending. 

As people face financial uncertainty during a recession, they tend to cut back on their discretionary expenditures, which directly affects businesses’ revenue and profitability. This decline in corporate earnings erodes investor confidence, prompting them to sell off stocks and causing stock prices to plummet.

Another factor is the rise in unemployment rates. As companies struggle to maintain their operations and profitability during a recession, they often resort to cost-cutting measures, including layoffs and hiring freezes. The resulting increase in unemployment contributes to diminished consumer spending power and signals a weakened economy. Investors interpret this as a negative indicator for future corporate performance, further driving down stock prices. Investors become more risk-averse, seeking less risky investments or opting to sell off their holdings altogether. This increased selling pressure leads to heightened volatility, with prices experiencing sharp declines and frequent fluctuations.

However, there can be exceptions to the general trend of stock market decline. While overall market performance tends to be negative, certain companies/sectors may still thrive amidst challenging economic conditions. Diversification acts as a protection, mitigating potential losses and capitalizing on opportunities that arise during recessions.


What sectors/stocks perform well during a recession? 

Defensive Stocks

Defensive stocks, such as those in the consumer staples and healthcare sectors, tend to perform better during a recession. These sectors provide essential goods and services that consumers need regardless of economic conditions. Since people need to purchase basic necessities like food and healthcare, even when facing financial constraints, companies in these sectors tend to be less affected by economic downturns.

Value Stocks

Value stocks (shares of mature companies based on fundamental factors), which are generally considered undervalued relative to their intrinsic worth, often outperform other growth stocks (shares of companies with high potential for above-average growth in revenue and earnings) during recessions. This is because value stocks tend to be more attractively priced for investors seeking bargains. As investors search for stocks with relatively lower valuations and strong fundamentals, they may find value stocks more appealing during a recession compared to growth stocks, which often command higher valuations during periods of economic expansion.

Index funds 

The benefits of investing in index funds during a recession include diversification, lower costs, and long-term focus. Index funds provide broad market exposure, reducing the impact of any single stock or sector performing poorly during a downturn. Their long-term focus aligns with the historical recovery and growth of markets over time.


Guides on investing during a recession

  • Maintain a long-term perspective: Focus on investing in strong companies that can combat the downturn and grow over time.
  • Diversify the portfolio: Spread the risk by investing in different sectors, industries, and asset classes.
  • Identify value opportunities: Look for undervalued stocks with strong fundamentals and growth potential.
  • Focus on dividend-paying stocks: Consider stable or growing dividend payments for income and potential reinvestment as a cushion against potential stock price declines.
  • Exercise caution with riskier investments: Be mindful of the higher volatility and uncertainty associated with speculative or highly leveraged stocks.
  • Regularly monitor and adjust: Stay informed, review the portfolio, and make necessary changes based on market conditions.
  • Seek professional advice if needed: Consult a financial advisor for guidance tailored to one’s financial goals and risk tolerance.


Navigate the stock markets through recessionary phases 

Despite the potential negative impact of a recession on the stock market, it’s crucial to acknowledge that market fluctuations are inherent. Historical trends have shown that the market tends to rebound over time, overcoming temporary setbacks. Traders must prioritize diversification in their investment portfolio and develop a robust financial plan for the same.

It is critical to keep in mind that investing in the stock market always involves some risk. Market movements might be unforeseen, resulting in temporary losses. When developing investment plans, investors should carefully examine their risk tolerance.

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  • All material published on our website is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered personal advice or recommendation. Traders should carefully consider their objectives, financial situation, needs, and level of experience before entering into any margined transactions.

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