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Annual returns on s&P 500 stocks, 1950–2012
Period Total Annual Return Capital Gains Dividends
1950–1959 19.25% 13.58% 4.99%
1960–1969 7.78% 4.39% 3.25%
1970–1979 5.88% 1.60% 4.20%
1980–1989 17.55% 12.59% 4.40%
1990–1999 18.21% 15.31% 2.51%
2000–2009 −1.00% −2.70% 1.70%
2010 15.06% 13.22% 1.84%
2011 2.11% 0.04% 2.07%
2012 16.00% 13.87% 2.13%

The overall pattern is that stocks as a group have provided a high rate of return over extended periods of time, but this return comes with risks. The market value of individual companies can rise and fall substantially, both over short time periods and over the long run. During extended periods of time like the 1970s or the first decade of the 2000s, the overall return on the stock market can be quite modest. The stock market can sometimes fall sharply, as it did in 2008.

The bottom line on investing in stocks is that the rate of return over time will be high, but the risks are also high, especially in the short run; liquidity is also high since stock in publicly held companies can be readily sold for spendable money.

Mutual funds

Buying stocks or bonds issued by a single company is always somewhat risky. An individual firm may find itself buffeted by unfavorable supply and demand conditions or hurt by unlucky or unwise managerial decisions. Thus, a standard recommendation from financial investors is diversification    , which means buying stocks or bonds from a wide range of companies. A saver who diversifies is following the old proverb: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” In any broad group of companies, some firms will do better than expected and some will do worse—but the extremes have a tendency to cancel out extreme increases and decreases in value.

Purchasing a diversified group of the stocks or bonds has gotten easier in the Internet age, but it remains something of a task. To simplify the process, companies offer mutual funds    , which are organizations that buy a range of stocks or bonds from different companies. The financial investor buys shares of the mutual fund, and then receives a return based on how the fund as a whole performs. In 2012, according to the Investment Company Factbook, about 44% of U.S. households had a financial investment in a mutual fund—including many people who have their retirement savings or pension money invested in this way.

Mutual funds can be focused in certain areas: one mutual fund might invest only in stocks of companies based in Indonesia, or only in bonds issued by large manufacturing companies, or only in stock of biotechnology companies. At the other end of the spectrum, a mutual fund might be quite broad; at the extreme, some mutual funds own a tiny share of every firm in the stock market, and thus the value of the mutual fund will fluctuate with the average of the overall stock market. A mutual fund that seeks only to mimic the overall performance of the market is called an index fund    .

Diversification can offset some of the risks of individual stocks rising or falling. Even investors who buy an indexed mutual fund designed to mimic some measure of the broad stock market, like the Standard&Poor’s 500, had better buckle their seatbelts against some ups and downs, like those the stock market experienced in the first decade of the 2000s. In 2008 average U.S. stock funds declined 38%, reducing the wealth of individuals and households. This steep drop in value hit hardest those who were close to retirement and were counting on their stock funds to supplement retirement income.

Questions & Answers

what is choice
Hamis Reply
what is indifference curve
Misba Reply
It is an alternative combination of consumption of two goods which gives equal level of satisfaction.
Shujjat
good morning guys.. I am Lawrence from Nigeria.. trust am welcome here..
Lawrence Reply
Lovely morning bro... Welcome 💕
Kosiso
ur most welcome lawrence
Kun
Welcome back to another session,happy Friday morning
Dumbuya
good morning guys I'm Oumar Kromah from Côte d'ivoire am I welcome here
Oumar
lovely morning bro welcome
Malak
i dont understand on economics
Noor
i m from pakistan
Noor
mashallah
Tanveer
I am from Nepal
OP
i m Pakistan
Malak
Am Gabriel from Ghana
Kwame
hmmm
Noor
are you ecnomist?
Noor
Am Eben Paak from Ghana
Eben
Okay.. Nice meeting us
Kosiso
l am James Borbor from Liberia
jackie
I am a researcher
jackie
you all are ecnomost
Noor
ohh nice
Noor
re search on economy
Noor
what is demand
Milton Reply
yes
Malak
Link seems to not work
Jayden Reply
what is an opportunity cost?
Azotikemah Reply
next best alternative cost...
suresh
Meaning of Economics
Kamara Reply
It can be define as the practical science that studies human relationship between End's and scare means which have alternative uses in all aspect of human life
Kosiso
what's the meaning of pure and impure
Levinel
Pure is free from immoral behavior or quality,Impure not clean dirty,filthy containing something that is in pure
Dumbuya
what is economics
Malak Reply
Economics is a social science which deals with humans behavior
Dumbuya
Explain two reasons why trade union membership may decline in a country
Pop Reply
analyse the factors that influence the strength of a trade union.
Pop
discuss whether or not trade unions benefit workers
Pop
nice questions guys
Kun
what is demand
ALALE Reply
what's the difference between elastic and inelastic
ALALE
The desire to purchase goods and services at a particular price
Dumbuya
Elastic: demand is price sensitive. Inelastic: demand is not price sensitive.
Ernest
what is equilibrium of a consumer
Kennedy Reply
is when marginal utility is equal to zero or entering negative.
Richard
what is international trade
joshua Reply
is the exchange of goods and services between two or more countries.
Richard
what is choice
Hamis
choice is the selection made between the various economic goods and services.
jackie
What is ceteris peribus
Kelvin Reply
Simply put, All things being equal
Mary
make all things being equal
ALALE
Things been equalized.. According to the definition
Kosiso
put all things equal
Dumbuya
What is the important of Economic
Parnda Reply
what is demand
Coded Reply
Demand is the various quantities of goods and services that consumers are willing and able to buy at a particular time over a given period of time
Kennedy
what is the rationality assumption?
Sadeya

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Source:  OpenStax, Principles of economics. OpenStax CNX. Sep 19, 2014 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11613/1.11
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