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It's a fun time for anniversaries. Yesterday marked two years from the start of the bull market that's sent stocks doubling in value. This month is also the 11-year anniversary of the dot-com-bubble peak -- a level many stocks, including non-tech names like Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO  ) and Ford (NYSE: F  ) , haven't come close to surpassing, and one the Dow and S&P just recently reclaimed.

Depending on who you ask, we're either in the middle of one of the strongest bull markets in history, or a lost decade.

It really all comes down to when your investments were initiated. The unfortunate thing is, by definition, we know when most investors were, and weren't, heavily invested. Money was chasing stocks with abandon 11 years ago, and running for its life two years ago. It can't be any other way.

Two news stories caught my attention yesterday. One was an Associated Press report describing the attitude of the "little guy" investor. One such investor discussed his current game plan. After cashing out while markets disintegrated two years ago, this investor is now getting back in. "It didn't feel right to be back in until now," he said. Sure, it didn't feel right. But the hard truth is investors like himself likely locked in 50% losses. Those are permanent losses. They can't be made back. Assuming similar portfolios, those who simply stuck it out through the storm will always have twice as much money. You can't ignore that difference. It's life-changing. For many, it's the difference between retirement and work.

The second story was from the finance blog Calculated Risk. After crunching some numbers, CR shows that if an investor hypothetically sold when recessions started and bought back in six months before recession ended, average annual returns jump by about 50%. That, too, can't be ignored. For many, it's the difference between retirement and work.

So I want to ask you: How do you feel your investments have performed in general? Do you feel like you've benefited from the two-year bull, or are you still suffering from the 11-year bear? Take the Fool Poll below, and share a thought or two in the comment section below.

Fool contributor Morgan Housel doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. Coca-Cola is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Ford Motor is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Coca-Cola is a Motley Fool Income Investor choice. The Fool owns shares of Coca-Cola and Ford Motor. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (2) | Recommend This Article (6)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On March 10, 2011, at 6:19 PM, motleymarty wrote:

    Like the article hate the ad "The next market crash is coming". Just like death and taxes, can't escape either of those. Inevitable. So what? In 2008 I cashed out two losing mutual funds, picked a broker, executed trades myself (no put/calls or fancy stuff), and now am sitting pretty w/dividends.

    Be forewarned about that "Next Market Crash is Coming", which probably links to something heavily advertised on Bloomberg radio. It's like the goofy dude on the street corner with the sign "The End Is Near!". Your own end will be nigh if you pay this nut. It's like those emails from some high official in another continent who needs $3K to get 10 million out of the country. And I have a bridge to sell you . . .

  • Report this Comment On March 12, 2011, at 1:43 PM, rmiers wrote:

    US security laws are toothless. A thief remains a thief. Hedge and financials, and large investors can control markets. The wolves are waiting.

    Other than that, it's a wonderful day in the neighborhood.

    They have stolen enough to buy and live straight for a while.....but human nature is what it is.......they are looking for an outside incident to blame

    and....they are smart enough not to kill the whole goose.....but they are still waiting and still control our central government

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