The S&P 500, Dow And Nasdaq Since Their 2000 Highs

by: Doug Short

Here is an update in response to a standing request from David England, a professor who has developed a popular college level stock market class at John A. Logan College in Carterville, IL. In his presentations, he likes to disprove the standard message of Wall Street, "Don't worry! The market will always come back." I furnished David with some charts, and I now share them with regular visitors to my Advisor Perspectives pages.

Specifically, David had asked for real (inflation-adjusted) charts of the S&P 500, Dow 30, and Nasdaq Composite. So I created two overlays - one with the nominal price, excluding dividends, and the other with the price adjusted for inflation based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers (which I usually just refer to as the CPI). The charts below have been updated through Friday's close.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The charts require little explanation. So far the 21st Century has not been especially kind to equity investors. Yes, markets usually do bounce back, but often in time frames that defy optimistic expectations. Investors in the Nikkei 225 have been waiting a long time for a return to the peak of 1989.

The charts above are based on price only. But what about dividends? Would the inclusion of dividends make a significant difference? I'll close this post with a reprint of my latest chart update of the S&P 500 total return on a $1,000 investment at the 2000 high.

Click to enlarge
Click for a larger image

Total return, including reinvested dividends, certainly looks better, but the real (inflation-adjusted) purchasing power of that $1,000 investment remains negative.