“A nightmare decade for stocks,” says a headline in The Wall Street Journal.
“Investors would have been better off investing in pretty much anything else, from bonds to gold or even just stuffing money under a mattress. Since the end of 1999, stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange have lost an average of 0.5% a year thanks to the twin bear markets this decade.”
The 1990s was the best calendar decade in history for stocks, with an annual gain on average of 17.5%. This decade, by contrast, was the worst calendar decade for stocks going all the way back to the 1820s…
Which gives us a sense of triumph…you know, that’s the thing that comes before a fall. Ten years ago, we warned readers that the US stock market was going into a bear market that would be like the Japanese market following the stock crash in Tokyo in ’89. It would be “long, soft and slow” we said.
Then, the market rebounded. Investors thought the promises of the ’90s – “stocks for the long run” or even “Dow 36,000” – were still good. As for Markets and Money, it was obvious that we didn’t know what we were talking about, because the Dow just kept going up…first above the high set in 1999…and then all the way to over 14,000. Even we had to admit… If this was a bear market, it was a very strange one!
Ten years later, the decade of the ’00s has proven to be the worst ever. Yes, dear reader, the ’00s were the worst for investors ever, even worse than the 1930s.
Now, we are wondering: what’s next for the stock market? More of the same. The bear market that began in January ’00 still has not fully expressed itself. Stocks have not been beaten down to bargain levels – where they sell at 5 to 8 times earnings. Investors have not given up. There is no widespread sense of disgust and disillusionment with the stock market.
And it still takes about 10 ounces of gold to buy the Dow stocks. At the bottom, you’ll be able to buy the Dow for just 1 or 2 ounces. And then…you’ll think twice. Because everyone around you will be telling you that stocks are ‘finished.’
And who knows? Maybe they’ll be right…
for Markets and Money