"Too keen an eye for pattern will find it anywhere." ~ T.L. Fine
One is ignored, two is a fluke, three is a pattern. Once the pattern is recognized, it is drawn into reality. Stock investors are wise to pay attention to this human (and flawed) heuristic attraction.
Having been through the typical and dramatic post bear market bounce (2009-2010), followed by a correction and slowing volatility (2010-2011), it seems all that remains is the third leg (2012-?) where speculators and amateurs drive stock prices higher only because "everything is going up." By the way, there is no fourth leg...
Intuitively, I had already anticipated that the third and final leg in this bull market for stocks will begin this year. I haven't been seeking to confirm these intuitive thoughts but I recently stumbled over this simple and illustrative MarketWatch article, Three stages of a bull market. I'm not a technical trader but I believe charts, such as those presented in the article, can be more telling of human behavior (and eventuality) than that of fundamental analysis.
I also like to consider intuitive thoughts and anecdotal evidence. Here's an example I use with clients:
It was late 2005 and the sweet little old lady down the street greeted my wife and me as we were walking our dog. She asked, "Are you going to buy one of those new condos? People are buying them and selling them for quick profit."
At the time, this trend of buying and quickly selling for profit was called "flipping." My wife asked if we should try flipping a property. My response was this: "When the little old lady down the street is doing it, the time to invest has passed."
Back to the present, the sweet little old lady no longer lives down the street but it is clear to me that there are more speculators and amatuers wading back into the waters of risk now than at any time since 2009. I have recently spoken to prospective clients who were "not ready" to invest in stocks in 2009 but are now more comfortable with risk. This is purely anecdotal but it is reflective of third-leg behavior and a caution: Investors are presented with a double-edged sword where stocks may move significantly higher but volatility and an eventual onset of the next bear market is coming closer.