Long Term Stock Market Returns

Looking at a chart covering the performance of the stock market over the last 30 plus years is a lot like looking at a chart of profitable business earnings at a cartoon enterprise meeting–it’s almost a caricature of itself, a steady upward slope shaped like a ski jump punctuated by regular but far-between drops, always ending higher than it was before.

When an economy and stock market is in the thick of a recession or stagnation, and a potentially scary election is coming up, it’s hard remember the long term potential the stock market has.    In the short term a financial crisis always seems like the end of the world, but, as looking at the data would suggest,  stocks always end up stronger than ever. The following is a look back at the last three decades, and all of the crises and triumphs contained within.

The 2000s: The early 2000s recession and the Global Financial Crisis of 2007-2008.

The 2000s were a tumultuous decade at best, between the big tech bubble that crashed in 2000 and 2001  and the abysmal 2008 crash, the drops were big and hit investors hard. But what most people still might not realize is that markets shot straight up in March of 2009 and have been on a steady mend since.

The 1990s: The Recession of 1990-1992.

The recession of the early 1990s was the largest recession since that of the early 1980s, but stock markets as a whole seemed to disregard any uncertainties as tech stocks especially had a boom period.  An investor invested in a diversified mix of stocks would have more than tripled their money if invested for the 90’s.

The 1980s:  Black Monday.

The most memorable stock market memory from the 80’s is known as black Monday in 1987, where the global markets crashed and the Dow Jones declined by a remarkable 22.61% in one day! 1  Talk about a scary day for investors.  But overall if investors stayed invested in a diversified mix of stocks for the whole decade they would have more then quadrupled their money.

While there has been a lot of doom and gloom over the years, the economy, and the stock market,  has always rebounded, stronger than ever. Much like the gradual upward spiking of stock market over the last 30 plus years, there will always be mountains and valleys and currently a plateau, but it’s important to remind ourselves not to panic when sitting on one of these long plateaus.

By Jimmy Hancock


  1. Browning, ES. “Exorcising Ghosts of Octobers Past.” WSJ. WSJ, 15 Oct. 2007. Web. 23 May 2016.

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