Time for The Greatest Chart Ever

A chart for the ages, nicknamed over the years “The Greatest Chart Ever”*.

Please make sure the chart above shows on your screen! If not, please ask me to email you a copy.

Simply put, the chart summarizes the inevitable volatility that stocks experience year-in and year-out, while still producing intermediate- and long-term positive returns. Last week’s TGIF 2 Minutes touched on similar concepts related to sticking with a 60/40 portfolio.

“The Greatest Chart Ever” offers needed perspective in times of volatility and uncertainty. Over a period of more than 40 years of intra-year stock market performance, the chart illustrates valid reasons NOT to allow short-term market moves (monthly, quarterly – or even yearly) to lead to poor investment decisions. Why? Please read on.

In the chart above:

  • the RED DOTS = how much the market went down at some point DURING each year.
  • the DARK GREY BARS = where the market FINISHED AT THE END OF THE YEAR.

For example, the stock market crash of 1987 saw a period of time when the S&P 500 was down 34%. In that particular year, the S&P 500 index finished the year UP 2%.

In the financial crisis of 2007 to 2009, a particularly scary time for stocks, the chart illustrates that in 2008 the S&P 500 was down 49% at one point and finished down 38%. The following year of 2009 saw the S&P 500 down 28% at one point in the year and finishing UP 23%, an upside turnaround of over 55%.

The average intra-year decline has stayed steady over the years at about -14% at some point in the year. In nearly 75% of the time, since 1980, returns at year-end are positive.

This data of over 40 years points out that sticking with an investment plan can be critical to reaching financial goals. Making a rash investment change due to fear caused by an intra-year decline can destroy a well laid out, long-term investment plan.

The decision to stay invested can be challenging in the short-run, but less so when information, data points and trusted advice are added to the equation.

*Source: JPMorgan Guide to the Markets. FactSet, Standard & Poor’s, J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

This material has been prepared for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, tax, legal or accounting advice.


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