Some Data to Help Us Avoid Investment Depression


To help us keep things in perspective when markets are troubling, Larry Swedroe had an excellent bit of data points on market returns he got from a colleague, Dan Campbell, covering 89 years from 1926 to 2014. The following excerpt is from Larry Swedroe and his blog post “Keep Calm and Stay Forward”:


If you’re prone to investment depression, one way to help avoid the downward spiral that many investors experience (which can lead to panicked selling) is to envision good outcomes. To help you do just that, I have gone to my trusty videotape and come up with some data that should not only be of interest, but should also enable you to envision positive outcomes. My thanks to my colleague, Dan Campbell, for producing the data, which covers the 89-year period from 1926 through 2014.


  1. There were 33 years (or 37% of them) in which the S&P 500 Index produced a loss during the first quarter. By the end of 18 of those years (or 55%), the S&P 500 had produced a gain. Of those 18 years, the highest return occurred in 1933, when the S&P 500 returned 54%. The best performance during the last three quarters in each of those years was also in 1933, when the S&P 500 returned 79.2%. The last time the first quarter ended in negative territory but full-year returns turned positive was just recently, when in 2009, the first quarter finished with a return of -11% and went on to recover for full-year gains of 26%.

  2. There were 31 years (or 35% of them) in which the S&P 500 Index produced a loss during the first six months. By the end of 11 of those years (or 35%), the S&P 500 had produced a gain. Of those 11 years, the highest return occurred in 1982, when the S&P 500 returned 21.4%. The best performance over the last half in each of those years was also in 1982, when the S&P 500 returned 31.7%.

  3. There were 24 years (or 27% of them) in which the S&P 500 Index produced a loss during the first nine months. By the end of four of those years (or 17%), the S&P 500 had produced a gain. Of those four years, the highest return occurred in 1982, when the S&P 500 returned 4.0%. The best performance over the last quarter in each of those years occurred just recently, when in 2011, the S&P 500 returned 11.8% over the last three months.

Recent Posts