In his novel "Anna Karenina" Leo Tolstoy wrote, "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way."
The same thing can be said about the stock market. Strong or happy markets tend to have many common attributes while weak or 'unhappy' markets tend to have unique circumstances.
This general phenomenon has come to be known as the Anna Karenina Principle. The theory is that a successful endeavor or market is one that has avoided all major deficiencies. That is a common trait and is why all strong markets are somewhat similar.
The current unhappy market is unique in a number of ways. It is particularly unusual that the number of economists predicting a recession is at record levels. Normally when such a view is so well anticipated it is already discounted to a great degree, but in this market, the corrective action is still quite narrow.
What is also different this time is the role of the central banks. It is unprecedented that interest rates were already so low as recessionary pressures become more apparent. The concern of the bears is that after a decade of interest-rate cuts the central bankers will be incapable of stopping the economic cycle this time.
There are many other unique circumstances about this unhappy market right now such as the U.S.-China trade issue, valuations, and the technical patterns. What I find particularly irksome about the market right now is the lack of good opportunities. Stocks are not beaten up enough for bargain hunting but the potential for bounce action is high.
The important issue right now is that this is clearly an unhappy market and it is struggling to find something to be happy about. It is not like other markets we have dealt with in the past and that means we need to proceed with a higher level of caution.