The Lost Decade for the S&P 500

October 8th, 2011

by Doug Short

Here is a new update of a chart that illustrates the total return performance of the S&P 500 since the Tech Bubble closing high on March 24, 2000. The chart shows the value of $1000 invested in the index, including dividends, but excluding any taxes or fees. We've also included the real value using the Consumer Price Index for the inflation adjustment.

We calculated on the returns based on the daily price and daily dividends interpolated from the quarterly dividends as reported by Standard & Poor's. Thus the $1335 nominal and $976 real values are the hypothetical returns excluding any taxes or fees.

We're now over twelve years beyond the S&P 500 2000 high. This little charting exercise gives credence to the frequent reference to a "lost decade" for investors. In nominal terms, the index is about 33.5 percent above where it was at the 2000 peak, but in real terms, it's a less impressive 2.4 percent off the original investment. The chart also offers support for the wisdom of diversification across asset classes … and perhaps the value of active management during secular bear markets.

For anyone interested in total returns on a lump sum with an additional fixed-sum monthly investment, check out the nifty calculator at Political Calculations.

Note: The dividends for the most recent months are from Standard & Poor's. For real returns we use a linear extrapolation for the most recent month(s).

The Political Calculations calculator does not use extrapolations. Thus the latest end date is a month or two behind the current date.

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