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Historical Asset Class Returns Chart 2013

Fri, 03 Jan 2014 06:09:51 GMT

2013 was a fantastic year for investors unless you mistakenly thought gold was an investment (Buying gold is a speculation, NOT an investment since it pays no dividends or interest. However, it is very pretty!).  Gold fell -28% in 2013 while US stocks rose 32-38%.  Long-term bonds and Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) had one of their worst years on record with each falling -9% in value in 2013.  In addition, tax-free bonds lost roughly -2% while high-yield or junk bonds returned +5%.

Hopefully you were not unfortunate enough to fall for a slick Wall Street pitch to "diversify" by "betting" on the following commodity prices.  However, I know certain prominent investors were burned by these sales pitches. 

2013 Returns
Crude Oil -2%
Heating Oil -3%
Aluminum -10%
Wheat -15%
Gold -28%
Silver -37%
Corn -38%

The chart above shows the last 15 years of investment returns by asset class. On the far right I have calculated the 20-year average for each asset class and pointed out the best and worst annual returns for the past 20 years for each asset class.  I love this chart - which is why I put it on the back cover of every book I have written.  Almost everything you need to know about investing can be learned from this chart:

  1. Stocks beat bonds over the long-run.  In the far right columns of the chart you will notice that all 4 of the major stock classes have a higher 20-year average return than all 4 of the major bond classes. You will notice that the various stock classes averaged 9-14% annual returns over 20 years while the various bond classes averaged just 5-7%.  
  2. Stocks don't beat bonds EVERY year, but they win about 75-80% of the time.  You will also notice that a stock class claimed the top spot in 11 out of the past 15 years (and 20 out of the past 25 years).

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