Doom & Gloom ... and Ecclesiastes
It's April, 2000 and the market has been booming for five years ... up 184%. The gurus are out in force:
They say: "Expect double digit returns".
They say: "Safe withdrawal rates are 6-7%".
They say ...
They're so certain about their predictions, and frankly ... I don't understand that.
It's now April, 2005 and the market has been dragging its feet for five years ... down 19%. The gurus are out in force:
They say: "Expect single digit returns ... or less".
They say: "Safe withdrawal rates are 2-3%".
>A picture is worth a thousand ...
Okay, here's a picture, for the S&P 500:
5 years worth of the S&P 500: 1995-2000 and 2000-2005
>Okay, in April 2000 it looked good and now ... not so good. But it's better safe than sorry, eh?
Yes, but ...
>Is it just the financial gurus who expect these returns?
Well, no. In fact, in 1999 (after ten years where the annualized returns for the S&P were something over 16%),
a survey by the Institute of Psychology and Markets found that the average mutual fund investor was expecting annual returns from mutual funds of nearly +19% over the long term.
However, it's the gurus that people listen to ... and they speak with such authority. If they said something like:
"We've seen this before and here's what's happened."
>And have we seen this before?
Sure. Remember that there is no new thing under the sun.
>Is that Ecclesiastes?
Uh ... yes, I think so.
>But the wisdom of Ecclesiastes also says:
For in the abundance of wisdom there is an abundance of vexation, so that he that increases knowledge increases pain.
Can we get back to doom and gloom? You asked if the past five years has happened in the past.
If we go by the machinations of the S&P 500, I can answer "yes":
5 years worth of the S&P 500: 1973-1978 and 2000-2005
>I assume there were doom and gloom comments in 1978, as there are now ... right?
That was before my time, however ...
>So how did the market behave after 1978?
S&P 500: the years after 1978
>So you're predicting a similar behaviour over the next umpteen years, eh?
Wait'll I check ...
See also Ecclesiastes