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.
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Where are you? In the middle of a bull market, or still stuck in a lost decade?