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Boy, there's a lot of depressing news out there today. The number of Americans who are are underinsured when it comes to health care has exploded over the past few years, a trend that threatens to raise health care costs for those who have decent amounts of health insurance. General Motors' auditors say there's "substantial doubt" the company can continue as a going concern. More than 11% of all mortgages are delinquent or in foreclosure, according to a trade group's report.

That got me looking for something—anything—to cheer me up. I didn't find any help in today's economic news, but I did find a ray of sunshine at The Big Picture, the excellent blog of Barry Ritholtz, director of research at Fusion IQ (and a guy who is rarely accused of painting unjustifiably rosy pictures of the market). He points out in a recent posting that retracing 12-year-lows in the Dow Jones industrial average, such as has been our recent privilege to see, is an extremely rare occurrence, having happened only twice before: in 1932 and in 1974. In both cases, the low marked the end of that era's bear market (in 1974, almost immediately; in 1932, within about three months).

Now, as Ritholtz points out, this doesn't prove the end of the bear market. Nor does it mean the economy will stop contracting and unemployment will stop rising. Two prior examples don't make for a sufficient sample. And why should 12 be a magic number? But, as Ritholtz says, the situation "does present a real possibility of a strong market rally."

That's enough to cheer me up for a few hours, at least (even though, as I read this, the Dow is down another 200 points on Thursday). Can anyone else come up with optimistic straws to grasp at? Anyone?