The Nasdaq officially dipped into bear territory on Thursday.

The tech-heavy index rallied off its interday lows to close just a rounding error away from official bear status — for now. The Nasdaq has lost nearly 20% of its value in just four months. Reuters called it “the latest sign that the bull market that began in the depths of the financial crisis a decade ago could be coming to an end.”

The Nasdaq is the first of the three major US indexes to fall into bear territory. The Dow Jones and the S&P 500 have lost about 15% from their respective highs. But several other segments of the market have already fallen to the bears. The Russell 2000 and the Dow Jones transports have both lost more than 20% of their value in recent weeks. And although the S&P 500 remains above bear territory as a whole, more than half of its individual stocks are already in a bear market.

Peter Schiff has been calling this a bear market since last spring.

“To me, if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck and quacks like a duck – it’s a duck. And this market is looking like, walking like and quacking like a bear market.”

Now, even mainstream talking heads on the business networks are talking about bears. Earlier this week, DoubleLine Capital founder Jeffrey Gundlach spent an hour on CNBC insisting we were already in a bear market.

“I’m pretty sure this a bear market. I mean, people like this definition of 20% down is a bear market, but that’s obviously very arbitrary. I’ve been around for over 35 years in this business, and I’ve seen a number of bear markets. And it’s more about kind of how you lead into it, how it develops and how the sentiment changes. And I think we’ve pretty much had all the variables that characterize a bear market.”

Gundlach isn’t exactly a mainstream guy, but he has a lot of respect and his insistence that things aren’t as good as people want to pretend sparked broader discussions about a market downturn this week.

The Nasdaq flirting with bears really has the mainstream tongues wagging now.

Invesco chief market strategist Kristina Hooper told Reuters the Nasdaq is “like Icarus.”

“It’s flown too close to the sun, in that it’s had a bigger run-up. It’s gone up significantly more than the other major indices and that has a lot to do with why it’s fallen the most.”

Robert W. Baird managing director of institutional sales Michael Antonelli likened the Nasdaq to a canary in the coal mine.

“When growth expectations change, like they have radically over the past few months, the first place they’re going to go is to the Nasdaq and absolutely slam it.”

Of course, all of the stock market indices have been pumped up with easy money for nearly a decade. As Peter Schiff pointed out in a recent podcast, this what the whole point of Federal Reserve monetary policy in the wake of the 2008 crash.

“The entire recovery was built on an asset bubble. Intentionally. Not even by accident …  That was the intent of the policy – to inflate asset prices. So, now that asset prices are deflating, if you know that the recovery was the result of asset prices going up and now asset prices are collapsing, what does that tell you about the recovery? Obviously, the recovery is going to go away too because so go the asset markets so goes the asset-based economy.”


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