Long-term Investors Shouldn’t Worry

Long-term Investors Shouldn’t Worry

For a moment on Monday, the S&P 500 was off 10% from its recent highs, CNBC reports, causing investors to panic given that the last 10% decline was in late 2018, aside from the 33% drop at the start of the pandemic in 2020. But even with this latest correction, it only amounts to a correction every 19 months—well below the historic norm.

5-to-10% corrections in the S&P 500 have been regular occurrences since 1946, and the market generally bounces back quickly after these slight declines. Deeper declines are rarer, and though most pullbacks over 20% are associated with recessions, the even rarer corrections of 20-40% haven’t lasted long—less than 14 months.

But when dividends are factored in, the article contends, the S&P 500 has risen 72% of the time year-over-year since 1926. And while roughly one out of every 4 years is a down year, it still means 57% of the time, the S&P has posted gains of 10% or more. Of course, the last decade or so have been anything but normal, with gains of about 15% each year—well above historic norms. Some of that could be attributed to the Fed’s actions, pouring enormous support into the economy and keeping interest rates low. With the Fed now pulling back and raising rates, that could result in a period of below 10% returns.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean negative returns; Vanguard noted in their 2022 Economic and Market Outlook that “high valuations and lower economic growth rates mean we expect lower returns over the next decade,” and called their long-term outlook for equities as “guarded.”

As for the average investor, CNBC says, while many people panic at the market bottom, very few people actually invested all of their money at the market top. So when the stocks pull back, they’re likely pulling back from the higher price investors paid for them.