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The 5 Year Bull Market Myth!

The 5 Year Bull Market Myth! If you like to read about the stock market you may have seen some recent articles about the so-called bull market we have experienced over the last 5 years. One of the problems with looking at the market with such a short term view is we fail to see the whole picture.

I liken it to the horse wearing blinders effect. Not that I get out to the horse races much but if you have ever been to one you will notice that they put these things called blinders on the horse's eyes so they will not get distracted during the race. Well sometimes human nature acts just like those blinders and we tend to only see what has happened lately. This is exactly the case of the mythical 5 year bull market and this phenomenon can be very dangerous to the novice as well as the experienced investor. Let me explain.

First let's look at this so called bull market and why it has been deemed as such. Going back about 5 years ago to September 30, 2002 the S&P 500 closed at 827.37. Flashing forward just a little over 5 years to October 8, 2007 the S&P closed at 1,554.41. If you do the math that equals an attractive annual growth rate of 14.19% per year. Wow you might say, what's wrong with 14%, sign me up! The problem is this is not the whole story. In fact this is a dangerous story if market makers and mutual fund promoters use this information to influence countless investors to invest in the market without considering the true risks and the effects these risks will most likely have on their returns. Let's take our blinders off for a moment and consider the long term implications of this mythical market.

What if we were to go back just two years more to the year 2000. In fact let's go back to January 3, 2000 when the S&P 500 index closed at 1,441.47. Let's assume that this just so happened to be the date that you decided to invest your hard earned money into the market. Would you still be up 14.19% per year on average? Hardly. In fact you would have spent two years with a stomach ache watching your money decline as the market dropped to the bottom on September 30, 2002. In fact you would have lost 42.6% of your investment. Could you afford to lose that much money in so short a time?

But some may argue that this was only a paper loss and if they would just hang in there until the market rebounded they would be fine. The truth is the market did rebound but with what effect?

If you would have invested your money directly in the S&P 500 on January 3, 2000 to October 8, 2007 for a little over 7 years your compounded annual growth rate would have been .96% during the entire period. Not even one percentage point.

Now that is a market that suddenly does not look so bullish does it? And all we did was look back an additional two years. What if we looked ahead?

What would the S&P 500 have to do over the next 26 months so that by 2010 this hypothetical investor could actually justify all of the risk that he just took over this 10 year period?

If by the year 2010 the market increases by 50% this lucky investor will have an effective 10-year rate of return of a whopping 4.20%!

The bottom line is that the next 3 years have to be phenomenal just to provide long term investors with somewhat competitive returns. Returns that they could have otherwise achieved with much less risk and much more certainty.

So while the 5 year bull market did happen for a lucky few, chances are if you have been a long term investor over the last seven years you have barely broke even. How much better off could you have been if you had invested in safer, less volatile, or even risk free alternatives. Before you get ready to listen to the market makers or mutual fund marketers make sure you know the facts. Don't get sucked into the hype of the mythical 5 year bull market. If you are not sure exactly how well your investments are doing you may want to seek out the assistance of a qualified advisor who can tell you not just what your fund has averaged over the last 5 or 10 years but who can help you analyze what your true return has been and if you are as far ahead as you think or if it may be time to reevaluate your holdings. While blinders may work well for horses they can be devastating to investors.

About the Author:

Antonio Filippone is a respected speaker on a wide range of subjects. He has been published in the official journal of the IARFC as well as interviewed on the Radio about his out side the box financial strategies.Readers who are interested in gaining more information on how to live debt free and truly wealthy can request a complimentary copy of Mr. Filippone's booklet by visiting his website at www.tonyfilippone.com

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