Minus 15 cents: that is the capital loss for investors holding the S&P 500 tracking ETF SPY for all of 2011.
On December 31, 2010, SPY closed at $125.75. I show the last print on SPY on December 31, 2011, being $125.60. A selloff of 30 cents in the last 12 minutes of trading took SPY from a 15 cent capital gain to a loss for the year.
Of course capital gains are just one part of the total return. Yahoo Finance shows $2.576 worth of dividends being paid holders of SPY during 2011. This makes for a total return of $2.426 (assuming no reinvestment of dividends and that fees are subtracted before dividends are distributed to SPY holders) or 1.929%.
This seems not so bad in a low yield world -- until one considers the effect of inflation.
According to the Fed's Data, CPI in December 2010, was 220.186. Now, assuming no raise in inflation in December of 2011, the increase in CPI for 2011 would be to the November 2011 level of 226.720. This is an increase of inflation of 2.967% during 2011.
Real Total Return SPY in 2011: - 1.0%
Ouch!... Going to need some more rum in the egg nog to celebrate the New Year.