If you feel like its October 2008 and not October 2011, you are certainly not alone. You could have suffered comatose on October 3, 2008 and woken up three years later, today October 4, 2011, and if your nurse had Bloomberg on television, you would have likely thought that you were only out a single day. This is what you would have remembered from three years ago, and what you would have seen on Bloomberg today:
You remember, pre-comtase, on October 3, 2008 the S&P500 was at 1099, and the VIX was at 45.14
You wake up three years later, and see on October 4, 2011, that the SP is at 1095 and the VIX is at 45.45.
You could be forgiven for failing to recognize that, in fact, three years have occurred between these two nearly identical October 4th's. But since you were asleep for the March 2009 "turn-around," I'll let you know that there are some significant differences to consider this time. Let's look again at BAC, for example:
BAC, October 3, 2008: $34.48 (when you went into comatose)
BAC, March 12, 2009: $5.38 (while you were sleeping, beginning of the bull market in stocks that has since been erased for financials)
BAC, today October 4, 2011: $5.39. (you wake up and say, "BAC--what happened!?")
And here are some other financials (ZH):
Morgan Stanley: $12.20, now at the December 03, 2008 level
Citigroup: $22.58, now at the March 16, 2009 level
Goldman Sachs: $88.60, now at the March 11, 2009 level
JPMorgan: $28.05, now at the April 8, 2009 level
So, in other words, these banks currently have valuations near or equal to their lowest valuations of March 2009, when the overall market was at its own lowest. However, this time, they have these same lowest valuations when the overall market is much higher (1095 S&P and 10,599 DJIA) relative to the low, and when volatility is creeping back into the 40's. If the banks are leading indicators (like the yield curve), then we are in for another ride.
Notably distinct: Wells Fargo dipped to $8.61 on March 6, 2009, but sits today at $23.06; however, shares are down about 30% from earlier in the year (over $33/share).
Of course, there is another thing to remember that has occurred since your coma in October 2008. You might be able to tell, given that unemployment is higher, the markets are the same levels, and there is still a financial crisis, but while you were sleeping, the US government did manage to throw a few Trillion dollars at the mess, only to have no effect at all! So everything else might be the same or lower, but rest assured the next time you go into a coma, the national debt is waaaaay higher!
National debt, Sept 30, 2008: $10,186,269,007,199.11
National debt, Sept 30, 2011: $14,837,099,271,196.71
Percent: 45.7% increase in three years.