Stock Market Returns on Internet Are Wrong

A recent article in the Financial Times highlights the tendency to “use the US market as an example” of long-term profit potential in the stock market since there is so much historical data for this, the “biggest, deepest, and most celebrated market of them all.”

However, the article argues, the U.S. market may be an outlier. It cites the example of the construction of pension systems, pointing out that the world may have “mistakenly treated the best investment example as typical” (referencing a paper published on the subject for the Yale School of Management in 1997). The article also highlights capital appreciation data collected for 39 countries (taken from League of Nations records for the period between 1921 and 1996). “The US, it says, “offered the best real return, at 4.3 percent….the  median real return, however, was just 0.8 percent a year.”

The article concludes with: “A theory of investing which doesn’t also include the experience of many losing and straggling stock markets may be too optimistic about what lies ahead.”