What Are Normal Stock Returns? | Summary and Q&A

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October 12, 2018
by
Ben Felix
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What Are Normal Stock Returns?

TL;DR

Financial market returns have historically averaged 5.2% above inflation, but predicting future returns is difficult due to their random nature.

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Key Insights

  • ↩️ Stock returns have historically averaged 5.2% above inflation since 1900.
  • ↩️ Predicting future returns based on historical averages is challenging due to the random nature of stock returns in any given year.
  • 🏛️ Building realistic expectations for future returns requires considering both historical data and current market conditions.
  • 🍉 Staying invested for the long term is important, as trying to time the market and avoid downturns often results in poorer investment returns.
  • 🧑‍🏭 Future returns should be estimated by considering factors such as inflation, historical risk premiums, and current valuations, but it is still an uncertain process.
  • ✳️ Long-term risk premiums may persist, but equity risk premiums can change quickly and by large amounts.
  • 🌱 It is important for investors to have a reasonable estimate for future returns when building a financial plan, but also to be flexible and adapt to changing market conditions.

Transcript

if you're investing in stocks and bonds you have surely wondered how your portfolio was doing and how you should expect it to do going forward performance is relative we would evaluate an active fund manager against an index to see if they're delivering better returns than passively holding the market they rarely do if you are already investing in ... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How have stocks performed globally compared to inflation?

Since 1900, stocks globally have averaged a 5.2% return above inflation. This means that, on average, stocks have outperformed inflation by 5.2% annually.

Q: Can historical return data be used to predict future returns accurately?

No, historical return data only provides a rough estimate of future returns. The dispersion of stock returns in any given year is unpredictable, and even long-term averages may not accurately reflect what can be expected in a given year.

Q: How should investors approach building expectations for future returns?

Investors should consider both historical data and current market conditions. Factors such as inflation, historical risk premiums, and current valuations can provide some insights. Estimating future returns requires a balanced approach that takes into account both long-term averages and current valuations.

Q: Why is it important for investors to stay invested, even during market downturns?

Trying to time the market and avoid downturns often leads to poor investment returns. Instead, it is crucial to have a long-term perspective and remain invested, as studies have shown that it is impossible to consistently time the market and avoid losses.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Stocks globally have beaten inflation by an average of 5.2% per year since 1900, according to the Credit Suisse and Global Investment Returns Yearbook.

  • However, the dispersion of stock returns in any given year is unpredictable, making it challenging to predict future returns based on historical averages.

  • It is important for investors to have realistic expectations, understand the historical data, and stay invested for the long term, even during market downturns.

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