However, even a portfolio of stocks containing a wide variety of companies can fluctuate wildly.
- You may experience large losses over short periods.
- Market dips, sometimes significant, are simply part of investing in stocks.
Yearly Market Fluctuations
The yearly returns in the stock market also fluctuate dramatically.
The highest one-year rate of return of +67% occurred in 1933, while the lowest one-year rate of return of -53% occurred in 1931.
It should be obvious by now that stocks are volatile, and there is significant risk if you CANNOT RIDE OUT MARKET LOSSES IN THE SHORT TERM.
The Bright Side of this Story
But don't worry; there is a bright side to this story.
Despite all the short-term risks and volatility, stocks as a group have had the highest long-term returns of any investment type.
This is an incredibly important fact!
- When the stock market has crashed, the market has always rebounded and gone on to new highs.
- Stocks have outperformed bonds on a total real return (after inflation) basis, on average.
If you had deplorable timing and invested $100 into the stock market during any of the seven major market peaks in the 20th century, that investment, over the next 10 years, would have been worth $125 after inflation, but it would have been worth only $107 had you invested in bonds, and $99 if you had purchased government Treasury bills.
In other words, stocks have been the best-performing asset class over the long term, while government bonds, in these cases, merely kept up with inflation.
This is the whole reason to go through the effort of investing in stocks.
- Even if you had invested in stocks at the highest peak in the market, your total after-inflation returns after 10 years would have been higher for stocks than either bonds or cash.
- Had you invested a little at a time, not just when stocks were expensive but also when they were cheap, your returns would have been much greater.