Soon enough. I would say if you want to get back into the market, do so on Feb 9th. After this week, we will have cleared the bulk of earnings reports that are coming out and we will have seen Friday's CRITICAL GDP report. The first week of February will be plagued by talk of unemployment as the January unemployment number comes out on Feb 6th. After all this has passed, we will have a much better idea of which way the economy is heading, whether it is getting worse or not. We will have an idea of how bad unemployment is getting, whether the GDP is contracting or not and as earnings come out, you will know what companies are forecasting for 2009.
During earnings season, you may be inclined to solely focus on the earnings of the previous quarter, don't be. This is a lagging indicator. Instead, focus on what the company is saying about the rest of 2009. If they are not giving any estimates for 2009, that may be a sign that management thinks its business is going to suffer and the numbers will be bad. If management thinks it will have a strong 2009, you might want to look into the company. No one knows the firm better than its management.
You can better assess what stocks to buy, when to buy them, and at what prices to buy them at. Do not be impatient, if you get into the market now, you might be paying too much for a stock as weak unemployment numbers could hurt the company's value.