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The Stock Market – The Second Biggest Financial Scam of the Twentieth Century, Part 2 of 2

In stages, the stock market, promising higher returns than the tasteless old bonds, and money market accounts; consequently, the stock market became the destination of choice for retirement savings, and Wall Street responded by increasing offers to retail consumers through mutual funds. Prior to 2000, it was not uncommon to hear that the S&P had returned 16% over the previous 10 years. Looking at the returns of one of the best known index mutual funds, the Vanguard 500, returns since its inception in 1976 are 11.75%, impressive until you look at the 1 year return, -2.41%, the 5-year yield 11.89% and the 10-year yield 5.06%. These are average returns and not actual returns. As an example, let’s look at the growth of 1 dollar in the mythical High Fly Fund. High Fly shows a 50% gain in one year and your dollar jumps to $1.50. The next year it shows a loss of 25%, now your investment is worth $1.125. The average return for High Fly reported by the mutual is 12.5%, but this is not your actual return. Your real return or compound annual growth rate (CAGR) is around 6% per year, worse if you take inflation into account.

Is 6% acceptable given the risk investors take when investing in the stock market? David F. Swenson, CIO of Yale Endowment, explains investor risk in his book, Unconventional Success, when he states, “Because shareholders are paid after corporations have satisfied all other claimants, ownership of shares represents a residual interest. position than, say, corporate lenders who enjoy a superior position in a company’s capital structure. He goes on to say that “the 5.0 percentage point difference between equity and bond returns represents the historical risk premium, defined as the return to equity holders for accepting risk above the inherent level. to bond investments. Mr. Swenson’s comments and risk premium calculations were based on a compound annual return of 10.4% in the stock market compared to bond yields of 5%. 10.4%-5% equals a risk premium of 5.4%. Unfortunately, I have yet to find a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) calculation that matches Mr. Swenson’s. I found many examples of average returns that match the average growth rate of 10.4%, but not the CAGR. The reason this is important is that all other savings vehicles are quoted by CAGR. Your savings accounts, bonds, and money market account are all rated by CAGR or its equivalent, annual percentage yield (APY). In order to determine where to allocate your funds, you need to compare apples to apples, not apples to oranges. As you might guess, the stock market CAGR is lower.

A quick look at the CAGR calculator for the stock market on moneychimp.com shows that the average return from January 1, 1975 to December 31, 2007 is 9.71%. You only realized this return if you were invested in the market all the time. What if you started investing in 1980? The numbers are pretty much the same. If you started in 1985, your yields seem a bit better. In 1990, the CAGR fell to 8.21%. If you started in 1995, your CAGR jumps to 9.32%. If you started investing in 2000, your CAGR drops to minus 0.06%! If you strip out the last 7 years of S&P performance and track performance from January 1, 1975 to December 31, 1999, the CAGR was 13.03%. When the stock market is good it’s great, when it’s bad it’s damn miserable. For the record, there was only one 9-year period from January 1, 1950 to December 31, 2007 during which the average S&P return was 16.14% and the CAGR was 15.32%: the period from January 1, 1990 to December 31, 1999.

It should be clear from these numbers that your returns not only depend on how long you’ve been in the markets, but also when you started investing. In fact, the former heavy bond investor has outperformed the stock investor for the past 7 years.

The 1990s investor will have a very different view of market performance than the 2000s investor.

Mr. Swenson’s book is a must read for anyone investing in mutual funds. He makes a compelling case, explaining why actively managed mutual funds are generally a losing proposition for investors and why a balanced portfolio based on six strong asset classes is the winning combination. for investors.

How can I call the stock market the second biggest financial scam of the 20th century if I’m quoting numbers that, on the face of it, look pretty good? For four reasons:

1) because the true CAGR going back to 1950 is much lower at 7.47%. It will take the average American worker 25 years and a month to save $10,000 a year to accumulate $1 million in wealth as long as the market reaches a CAGR of 9.71% and in 29 years 2 months if forced to accept longer-term market returns. . These numbers leave very little room for error for the average American worker. Retirement projections are mostly based on returns that have only existed at some point in stock market history since 1950.

2) because the same laws that make it easy for individual investors to move money into the stock market also mandate its withdrawal at a specific time, which amounts to what every financial expert has called a money loss strategy , Market Timing. In other words, the laws governing tax-deferred savings require withdrawals to begin at age 70.5 at the latest, forcing retirees to time the market to determine their exit.

3) the time horizon for capturing significant market gains is indeed long, at least 30 years. To quote Mr. Swenson, “Bond and cash yields can outpace stock returns for years. For example, since the market’s peak in October 1929, it has taken equity investors twenty-one years and three months to match the returns generated by bond investors.”

Charles Farrell, an adviser at Denver’s Northstar Investment Advisors, used data from Morningstar’s Ibbotson and Associates to analyze 52 rolling 30-year periods, starting from 1926 to 1955 and ending from 1977 to 2006 “But here’s what’s interesting: the majority of your wealth would have almost always come in the last 10 years. Mr. Farrell calculates that on average, you would have accrued 8% of your final wealth after the first decade and 32% after the second. In other words, 68% of the total accumulated sum has been accumulated in the last 10 years. (Wall Street Journal, Jonathan Clements, November 21, 2007)

4) because the current marketing strategies of financial pundits, gurus and Wall Street treat stock market investing as a money making proposition, obscuring the real risks of investing and the true time horizon needed to accumulate wealth . In other words, the money needed for retirement must be invested for an extended period of time, around 30 years. It cannot be borrowed against. It cannot be used to buy a house, a car, to pay for education or the marriage of a child.

It can only be used for retirement in 30 years. Any other needs must be paid for from an additional source other than retirement savings. Most people don’t have the financial education to understand this and blindly chase market returns hoping for a big score.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution, but like most simple solutions, this one takes work and some financial education. I will present this simple solution in Part 3 of this series.

Disclaimer: This is a thought-provoking article based on real world examples, articles, books, and websites readily available to the public. This article is not intended to offer investment advice. Any actions you take in the market should be the result of your own financial education and consultation with a licensed professional. Financial calculations were made using the Savings Goal Calculator available on Bankrate.com, unless otherwise stated.

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