Annualized Returns By Asset Class From 1999 – 2018

Annualized Returns By Asset Class From 1999 - 2018

Before I show you the 20-year annualized returns by asset class between 1999 – 2018, I want you to guess the following four things:

1) Of the following asset classes, the S&P 500, a 60/40 stock/bond portfolio, Bonds, a 40/60 stock/bond portfolio, REITs, Gold, Oil, EAFE (Europe, Asia, Far East), national real estate, which performed best?

2) What was the annualized return for the best performing asset class +/-0.5%?

3) What was the annualized return for the worst performing asset class +/- 0.5%?

4) What was the annualized return for the average active investor +/- 0.2%?

If you can guess two out of the four correctly, I'll give you a gold star and might even take your child's SAT or ACT exam for you.

If you only get one out of four right, you need to go run five miles immediately. Zero right, then you need to run five miles, do 100 sit-ups, and 100 push-ups.

There's no way any of you are getting four out of four right.

Now that we have a deal, let's take a look at the results to see how reality compares with your biased beliefs. Here are the annualized returns by asset class between 1999-2018.

Annualized Returns By Asset Class Between 1999 – 2018

Below are the results compiled by J.P. Morgan, one of the largest traditional asset managers in the world that charge clients 1.15% – 1.45% of assets under management, based on $1 – $10 million. This is the mass affluent class with growing assets to invest.

Asset managers like J.P. Morgan are the reason why digital wealth advisors like Empower were created during the last financial crisis. People wanted to pay lower fees and weren't satisfied with active management results.

20-year annualized returns by asset class - Annualized Returns By Asset Class

As you can see from the results, REITs is the #1 performer with a 9.9% annualized return. I bet less than 20% of you guessed this one right. REITs is one of the biggest reasons why I like to invest in private commercial real estate. Owning a tangible asset the appreciates and generates rental income is huge.

The S&P 500 only returned 5.6% a year between 1999 – 2018. I think most of you would have guessed a higher return. On a relative basis, Bonds, at 4.5%, doesn't seem too shabby given the lower volatility and risk.

Gold is a real surprise at 7.7% since gold doesn't produce any income and whenever gold is mentioned, it's usually in a negative light unless you’re a gangster.

Meanwhile, Homes returned the worst at only 3.4%. The national home price index generally tracks close to inflation (2.2% in this time period). Therefore, a 1.2% outperformance is not bad. Further, we’re not including leverage, only sales price.

REITs Is The Best Perform Asset class

What's most interesting to me about this chart is how REITs have outperformed Homes by 6.5% for 20 years. This goes to show that professional real estate managers can add tremendous value.

The outperformance also partially explains why experienced individuals who know how to bargain, remodel, expand, and predict demographic changes often prefer real estate as well.

Finally, it's no surprise to me that the average active investor has only returned 1.9% a year during this time period. Trading in and out of investments is a losing proposition long term due to timing errors and fees. Figuring out when to buy is hard enough. Having to figure out when to sell and then get back in consistently is impossible.

The inability to consistently outperform the market is the reason why the vast majority of us should stick to a proper asset allocation model based on our risk tolerance and our goals in life.

Our core tax-advantaged retirement portfolio(s) should be mostly left alone. I'm talking about our 401(k), IRA, Roth IRA, SEP-IRA, 403(b), and so forth.

For our after-tax investments, it's worth adjusting our strategies based on a purpose e.g. getting more conservative if buying a house within the next 12 months.

See: How To Invest Your Down Payment

Why I Chose 1999 As The Starting Point

In addition to the fact that J.P. Morgan had already crunched the numbers for me, 1999 as a starting point is significant for me because it coincides with my graduation from college and when I started to aggressively invest my savings.

I actually started investing money during my sophomore year in 1996, but I only had about a $2,500 portfolio at the time so it was insignificant. Hooray for making $4/hour at McDonald’s though to learn about work ethic!

Given my vintage year is 1999, my outlook on various asset classes is shaped by the performance of these asset classes during most of my working career.

From 1999-2000, we had a tremendous internet stock bubble followed by a 2.5-year decline. Then we had a nice 5-year run in the S&P 500 followed by another 2-year collapse.

You can also look at the best asset class performers from 2001 – 2020 as well, another excellent 20-year time period.

A Bull Market Helps Annualized Returns

Given my working career has only been limited to living in New York City and San Francisco, I have personally witnessed closer to a 6% annualized growth in property from 1999 – 2018.

6% is not much greater than the stock market's 5.6% annualized return. However, once you add leverage, 6% becomes a significant amount. We're talking 12% – 30% annualized returns on a 50% – 80% loan-to-value ratio.

When I calculate my compound annualized net worth growth rate since 1999, the number is between 12% – 14%, depending on how I value some of my assets. This is fine since my annual net worth growth target has always been at least 10%.

However, I would attribute more than 50% of my net worth growth to aggressive savings and building a business rather than to returns. In other words, what you do may matter more than you think.

Lower Your Annualized Returns By Asset Class Expectations

One of my main goals of this article is for readers to keep your return expectations reasonable over the next 10-20 years. If you do so, your risk exposure will likely be more appropriate. You'll also likely work harder to build your net worth through action.

The second goal of this article is to compare your overall net worth growth to your various investments of choice and see how they stack up. You should try to figure out how much of your net worth growth was due to savings versus returns.

Finally, I want everybody to recognize their biases. I'm biased towards real estate because real estate has performed best for me since 1999. Whereas some of you will be biased towards stocks or other asset classes because they have performed best for you since getting your first real job.

Past performance is no guarantee of future performance. It is likely we will experience some performance leadership changes in the future and will have to adapt accordingly.

If you want to combat elevated inflation, then it's best to buy REITs, private real estate, S&P 500, and bonds for the long run. The key is to invest in risk assets that tend to provide returns greater than headline inflation.

How We Plan To Invest Our Money

For our tax-advantaged investments, including our son's 529 plan, I plan on leaving them alone. We've still got between 16-20 years before we want to access the funds.

For our after-tax investments, I'm reducing exposure to stocks, increasing exposure to cash and short-term Treasuries. I'm also diversifying our real estate exposure across non-coastal cities through speciality REITs and real estate crowdfunding. Finally, I'm constantly looking for ocean view fixers in San Francisco.

I'm sure I'll be kicking myself 10 years from now if I don't buy at least one more ocean view fixer today. I just love the combo of identifying high growth potential investments and boosting returns through rehabbing.

If you're curious, here's how I'd invest $250,000 today for more details. With elevated inflation and interest rates, I like Treasury bonds, but also real estate, which I consider a bond plus investment.

Diversify Your Investments Into Real Estate

As we saw from the annualized returns by asset class, REITs have performed best. However, REITs are also very volatile during a stock market downturn. Therefore, I'd much rather prefer investing in private eREITS, like the ones offered by Fundrise.

In 2016, I started diversifying into heartland real estate to take advantage of lower valuations and higher cap rates. I did so by investing $810,000 with real estate crowdfunding platforms. With interest rates down, the value of cash flow is up. Further, the pandemic has made working from home more common.

In addition to Fundrise, I also recommend CrowdStreet. CrowdStreet focuses on individual real estate opportunities mostly in 18-hour cities. 18-hour cities are secondary cities with lower valuations and higher rental yields. Growth rates tend to be faster as well due to positive demographic trends.

I've personally invested $954,000 in real estate crowdfunding across 18 different deals. It feels great to diversify, earn income 100% passively.

Invest In Private Growth Companies

Finally, consider diversifying into private growth companies through an open venture capital fund. Companies are staying private for longer, as a result, more gains are accruing to private company investors. Finding the next Google or Apple before going public can be a life-changing investment. 

Check out the Innovation Fund, which invests in the following five sectors:

  • Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning
  • Modern Data Infrastructure
  • Development Operations (DevOps)
  • Financial Technology (FinTech)
  • Real Estate & Property Technology (PropTech)

Roughly 35% of the Innovation Fund is invested in artificial intelligence, which I'm extremely bullish about. In 20 years, I don't want my kids wondering why I didn't invest in AI or work in AI!

The investment minimum is also only $10. Most venture capital funds have a $250,000+ minimum. In addition, you can see what the Innovation Fund is holding before deciding to invest and how much. Traditional venture capital funds require capital commitment first and then hope the general partners will find great investments.

Join 65,000 others and subscribe to my free weekly newsletter to learn more about all money matters.

59 thoughts on “Annualized Returns By Asset Class From 1999 – 2018”

  1. Every long term investors core portfolio should include total stock and total bond then sprinkle in refits, tips,intl and em
    Not too difficult

  2. Excellent post and certainly one of my favorites. I recently picked up some REITs and diversified into bonds as well, but never guessed even holding a simple bond portfolio yields a clear 4.5 without much volatility. Another striking point is that at least in this term, the whole 60/40 etc balancing may not be worth the stress as simply just buying the S&P alone.

    Sam – wanted your thoughts on if more of the gains in real estate, oil, and gold were more due to real performance or the multiple rounds of QE – and also if you don’t mind providing what you currently do for these.

    it think the bet with gold and risk assets such as these could go either way since largely our system is more stable after the implementation of financial reform post ’08. I have read with REITs they currently hold certain favorable tax law structures whereby it is possible to write off and or carry losses, therefore never really losing much total value. On gold I’d rather hold small holdings through GLD or physical. Oil, I like to play the swings and these cyclical downturns are some of my most favorite

    1. The notion that printing massive amounts of money via QE is bearish for gold is, frankly, a joke. If anything, with yields approaching zero percent and massive money printing is very bullish for gold.

      When bond yields were 10%, there was a decent argument against gold returning 0%. When bond yields are 0%, well…that gold is starting to look attractive. At least you can guarantee the central bank can’t double the supply of it overnight like they can with dollars.

      Under current monetary circumstances, gold is more bullish than ever. And when you consider how increasingly regulated (both officially and unofficially) stocks are, and the fact that so many companies are basically zombies running on prior productivity leveraged to the hilt for share buybacks, well, gold also starts to look attractive.

      IMO, the best investments right now are local business franchises that you can manage the finances of yourself, followed by leveraged rental real estate, followed by gold. If you don’t have the ability to exercise direct control over it, my level of trust is…quite low.

  3. anyone have a suggestion for the best way to get gold exposure? many of these websites that sell precious metals seem scammy.

    1. Physical. If you don’t hold it, you don’t own it. links you to a bunch of sites. I use jmbullion and provident metals, personally.

  4. What I got from this article is, don’t believe the daily talk. Even today, most people talk about how great stock investments/returns are. I’ve mostly been in personally managed multi-family real estate at a highly leveraged 7.25% rate on my loan, and wishing I was in anything else. However, my returns, after tax advantages, have been much higher than any of the asset classes mentioned.

    What I got from this article is, select your own asset allocation and run with it. A term I learned in the military was SWAG, scientific wild ass guess. That is what I figure I have done by choosing my allocation and running with it. Everything has its good and bad times. Times when you can sell for whatever you want to ask, and times when you can’t give it away.

    I won’t be making any changes based on this information. I chose a well thought out allocation and still believe in it.

  5. Interesting article, although it would be even better to have the analysis done over several different periods, and not just one particular period (that conveniently starts one year before the dot com crash). Picking out one particular period makes sure that readers are fooled by randomness. It’s like saying, Apple’s stock value multiplied several times over the last years, it’s the best asset!

    Still, the article is interesting because it reminds us that stock is not the best option over every time period (although it probably is on the average, and in most time periods).

    Also, I’m especially sceptical about gold: Obviously it appreciates as safe haven, during panics. But beyond that, I just don’t understand why it would have any real postive returns over the long run.

  6. Very interesting to see. I think you hit the nail on the head by saying,

    “You’ll also likely work harder to build your net worth through action.”

    The thing that matters more than any return is the amount of work you put in to save. It takes money to make money. Someone who saved a thousand dollars and got a 50% return still doesn’t beat the person who saved $1,501 and got a 0% return!

  7. I got the first one and the last one right. I predicted REITs and I threw out a wild guess on the returns for active investors.

    Though I’d heard someone on Twitter recently talking about how gold was the 2nd best asset class in the last 20 years, so I might have seen this chart before (still, the only thing I’d remember was gold’s performance).

    I’ll take that gold star, thank you very much. And while I have no children and thus no SATs for you to take, I’ll let you take the advanced level CAMS exams or the CFE if I’m ever so inclined. You can pass the CAMS-Audit and CAMS-FCI, right? ;)

    ARB–Angry Retail Banker

  8. Simple Money Man

    I’m not surprised REITs are #1, but would have never guessed Gold and Oil to be 2nd and 3rd. I’m comfortable with REITs a little bit more now than when I first started out. there are some out there that pay over 10%!

  9. The other thing that makes REITs more attractive now is that as a result of the 2017 new tax law, REITs qualify for the 20% QBI pass-through entity deduction.

    “Under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, though, REITs have been afforded a new tax preference: the IRC Section 199A deduction for “pass-through” businesses, that allows for a 20% deduction of any qualified REIT dividends against that very income, resulting in an effective 20% reduction in the tax rate on REITs (where the top 37% tax rate becomes “just” 29.6% instead).”

    This deduction is primarily for active business owners with businesses structured as pass-through entities, and excludes services business including law, consulting, accounting, etc. So I was shocked when I saw this when I did my taxes (I allocate 20% of my portfolio to REITs)

  10. Sage advice given to me years ago.

    4 legs of your investment table

    Own your home;
    Invest in second home/rental property;
    Pension plan/stock in company;
    Well managed Mutual fund.

    Since 1986 my Mutual fund has been to dollar cost average into S&,P 500. The total return over that time is 10 percent plus and as I reinvest dividends a bit higher.

    This long term strategy has worked well for me and my older self thanks my younger self for the discipline, very blessed.

    Perhaps this may help someone here.


    1. Love *this* post. Be like Scott.

      Guys, trying to discern investment options going forward using a data set starting in 1999 – a year in which the nasdaq had forward P/Es of OVER 100!!- is pretty risky.

      Determine your appetite for risk, diversify to match that risk tolerance, (including buying real estate when you can find clearly favorable conditions) and stick with it.

      If you feel the need to use gold, think of it as the asset you’ll use to trade for ammo in the post apocalypse if you need to.

    2. Thank you, Scott! That’s what I need–simple words (for a simple mind?) that are clear and make sense. As one who enjoys reading Sam’s posts but understands little of it, and as one whose total assets are waaaay less than the income of most of you readers, I need to protect the few shillings I have while trying to increase them before I am undeniably in the “old” category. Simple, straightforward advice that moves me beyond the most elementary level is needed!

  11. I would love to hear more comments about gold.

    Despite being on the higher end, return wise it’s attracting very few mentions.

    1. See my comment above. Basically, I think it’s good portfolio diversifier given it’s low correlation with other asset classes. Viewed on it’s own, it’s not very appealing.

  12. David S Pumpkins

    Might humbly suggest holding off on last rites for the S&P 500. If you took every 20 year period from 1970 on, 5.6% would be the lowest compound annual growth rate over the entire period. In contrast, a yearly return of 17.9% would be the best. The compound annual growth rate of the S&P 500 from 1970 to 2018 was 11.8%.

    Warren Buffett’s a pretty solid investor. When he passes, he wants 90% of his money invested in the S&P 500 for his wife. With all due respect, I think your readers would be well served to look at a broader set of data before selling the broad market to buy REITs, gold, and oil.

    1. Agree. What Sam showed was indeed eye-opening, but it was only one 20-year period. I’ll be taking a more inclusive view and S&P does really well in most periods.

  13. I have a pretty big holding in a non-REIT real estate fund that has been doing about 5.5 % – 6%. That works for me.

    And W&M is a great public college with a modest 1390 median SAT. So I am not sure what your score was, but I think I can do better .

  14. I guessed right on REIT! But it was just a (somewhat educated) guess.

    I don’t know if you have the numbers or not, but it would be interesting to see how other sectors of the stock market did over that time. You include the S&P 500, which is large-cap US stocks, and the EAFE, which is international stocks. I’d also be interested to see the performance for categories like US small-cap, US growth, US value, international small-cap, and emerging markets.

    Also, do your numbers for stocks include reinvestment of dividends?

    1. That’s an interesting point because it’s debatable as to whether “REITs” should be considered their own asset class (separate from stocks and real estate). And if so, why not break down the various slices of stocks as you suggest. For example, I believe small caps outperformed all of the above asset classes over the same period.

  15. These are interesting stats for a US market.

    For an emerging market India, below are returns of 2 asset classes.

    1. However, equity has been by far the best bet in Indian markets. i.e. an yield of 12%(including dividend reinvestment) for Sensex.

    2. Gold is second at 10.64 %(in Indian rupees term).

    3. India does not have history for REITs. The first REIT was launched last month, and it has received a very good response.

  16. I’m a big fan of owning individual investment properties for reasons already cited by some of the other folks (tax advantages, can buy under market, can add value, leverage especially given the recent dip in mortgage rates, etc.).

    I am also thinking about reducing my equity holdings and to use the proceeds to buy more investment properties for a more reliable cash flow stream. The struggle is how to sell my stocks in a tax efficient manner if there are substantial capital gain.

    I do not want to take a 35% LTCG hit (Federal + State/Local).

  17. REITs surprise me, as well. I have a nice chunk in VNQ, and it’s a bit of a roller coaster week to week, but I was up a little over 15% for the year as of March 31st. Dividends pay nicely, too, which probably add to a significant chunk of that return.

    Makes me feel smart for increasing my REIT holdings last year, but it was dumb luck. :D Actually, no, it was you and a few other folks I respect convincing me to get some more real estate exposure in my portfolio. I’d still love to pick up an investment property here in LA, and have been putting together savings for a down payment on the next downturn. I can wait, we’re already seeing a bit of a softening in sale prices, but this summer will be the real test.

    My place is up nearly 24% since I purchased it in 2015, so I’m averaging around 6% a year on the condo, as well. All and all, the REIT exposure makes me feel like I’m not completely missing the boat, but I too would be kicking myself if I don’t pick up a nice fixer-upper and make it something special in the next five to ten years.

    1. I live in LA too, and have been feeling exactly the same way. But prices are gonna have to go WAAAAY down — 15-20% or so — before I would pull the trigger. Home price rises have obviously been buoyed by ultra low mortgage rates and a rising stock market, but since the rates can’t really get much lower and the market is due for a correction in the next couple years, I seriously doubt we’ll see much more appreciation in LA from where we are now. I think patience (plus perhaps a nice earthquake to rattle out some potential sellers) will pay off on this one!

  18. Great article Sam,

    I got the first two right, shocked by the average investor returns. That’s horrible. I like the point about recognizing biases. When i first developed an interest in finance and investing i was in university. This was coming out of the GFC so i was nervous i stayed in cash for all of my first year of work because i was scared of a market crash. After about a year i invested everything and have been running a 80-20 global portfolio. I dump money into whatever is out of balance.

    I am seriously considering purchasing my first home in the coming year, but want to keep investing in financial assets as they have done well over my short time of experience. I am now biased towards stocks!!!! probably a good sign that i need to buy a house, pay off a mortgage while keeping investing.

    These are the kind of articles i really love. Thank you.

  19. Interesting data, I did guess this right. I’ve owned EPR and STAG for a while. Every few years the market will go erratic and I can buy some good REITs at 6.5% yields or better. Not a fan of the index in this sector anymore, about anything can classify themselves as a REIT now.

  20. Yeah this is one of the reasons I settled on a Permanent portfolio-type asset allocation consisting of 25% each gold, long term treasures, stocks and T-bills. Idea being you can’t really predict which asset class is about to tank or do well. Could slice it finer and add REITs as its own class, but the basic idea is to pick diverse asset classes, divide up equally and rebalance every year. Personally I figured that I had enough exposure to real estate w/ my primary residence. I’d never normally have considered gold or even treasuries but diversification is a good thing. I associate gold, in particular, with extreme libertarian kookiness but I view it for what it is: an uncorrelated asset class. I started doing this in September of 2012, right before Gold took a big nosedive, but my portfolio has averaged about 6% a year while being very smooth volatility-wise which I’m very pleased with. Keeping the AA simple and having low volatility have both helped me stick with it (a first for me as in the past I’ve been all over from an AA and investing strategy perspective).

    1. Matthew Boyd

      Totally agree … really takes the drama out of investing… the only other additional vehicle I would add it the high cash value low death benefit mutually owned life insurance… Fort Knox foundation.

  21. Money Ronin

    My Takeway: Since my real estate portfolio has beaten REIT returns, I’m investing the remainder of my money entirely in Gold. THANKS, FINANCIAL SAMURAI ;-)

    Also, I’ll run the 5 miles but I’m not doing the sit ups and push ups because I’m claiming that real estate (homes) is the top performing asset. Who buys a home without leverage? I do it with 20% to 30% down depending on whether it is a primary residence or investment property, and I’ve known people to get in on a 3% money down property. Real estate (at least in CA) has easily returned double digits with reasonable amount of leverage.

  22. Wow. I felt very confident that REITs would be at the top, due to long experience with VNQ. However, I’m totally shocked that gold and oil have done so well — in 2013 it would have made sense, but after the massive deflation in 2014 I’m stunned that such commodities outperformed stocks and even bonds!
    Totally agree with you about slowly reducing stock exposure for the time being — once P/E ratios normalize it will be another story, but for now the risk/reward does not seem favorable and I’m very happy to get a 2.5-3% guaranteed return on a big portion of my portfolio and sleep well at night!
    Love when you post this kind of “make you think” material, Sam. It’s really important to get perspective and not operate based on recency or location bias, and this info and “quiz” were very helpful in that. So thanks!

  23. Pretty interesting results. Looks like I’m due for a 5 mile run.

    My recent tilt in my portfolio has been towards real estate (private syndication multifamily apartments has been my most recent target) which I would say makes 50% or so of my net worth.

    I do like Reits as well and had lowered my bond % and put more into REITS for a few years now.

    The fact the average investor doesn’t do well is exactly why you should not try and time the market.

  24. Regarding U.S. Treasury trading, has anyone used Kessler for investing in Treasuries? Would love to see a post on T bills and risk free rate of return and which you recommend Sam. Thank you!

  25. VNQ has been a core holding since Sam recommended an allocation to REITs a couple of years ago.

  26. Solid article. I wasn’t so sold on REITs before, but I think that is an area I need to expand my portfolio into. I also agree with you on reducing stock exposure and going more towards cash. With the yield curve having inverted and the possibility of a recession in the next 12-24 months on the horizon, we can’t be too risky.

    However, I will keep contributing the IRS limit ($19,000) to my 401k since it is a tax-advantaged account (why pay more taxes?). I’m also inspired by your mention of an online business to boost savings and income.


  27. Yikes…I’ll start running. I figured real estate would’ve been #1 but I guessed Homes instead of REITs. My return estimation missed the actual by 0.1%. I’m a stock index kind of guy but I might have to start looking into REITs. I know you’re a big fan of them, Sam. Hmmmm…

    1. Exactly how I feel. My entire portfolio is a simple 3-fund portfolio all being index funds. This article is making me second guess my investment strategy and definitely add a REIT fund to it. I’ll stick with REITs until I can purchase actual real estate.

  28. I “guessed” 3 of the 4 correctly, but only because I’m familiar with this JP Morgan graphic. The one I didnt get is the return of the worst performing asset class.

    I’m biased toward real estate as well due to having leveraged up as much as possible right out of college in 2014 in Portland. I also like the ability to find off market deals, bargain for renovation costs, etc. My IRR has been 67% over the last 5 years, so I feel like I’ve won the lottery. But, I have a child due in a month and am looking to not work what has been essentially two jobs.

    I just sold my first property due to wanting to reduce West Coast RE exposure, and am having a difficult time determining what to do with the funds. I feel like a good strategic asset allocation should include more stocks (I’m at 5% of net worth currently), but I’m not excited about stocks at the moment. My current paralysis has led me to put into 2.45% savings account and make private shorter term RE backed loans at 10-12%. I’m considering selling puts on specific blue chip stocks because I see one can make 1.5-2%/month on even safer stocks like XOM.

    Long term, I still think I want a 50% weighting to real estate, but more via passive syndication model in non west coast areas for now. I work at one of the top online RE Crowdfunding places right now, so I have a bit of a birdseye view on deals, which helps.

  29. I’m surprised about REITs as well, especially since I don’t own any. I have a good portion of my net worth tied up in a commercial property (purchased via a 1031 from the sale of a different investment property), and I benefit quite a bit from direct ownership via depreciation, tax deductions and tax deferred capital gains. For now the work I put into it is manageable, and I believe once the tax effects are considered, I’ve done quite a bit better with direct ownership than I would owning a public REIT.

    Do you own public REITs? If so, do you own them in a tax qualified account?

      1. I’m different. I own no more than ten stocks. This means if I buy one I have to sell one. This keeps me from trading. This keeps me from buying “trends”. Think Lyft. Before I sell a stock to buy a new stock, I ask myself “why am I selling this stock?” This question gives me restraint. In my opinion it is not difficult to find ten great companies in America. The difficult part is keeping my hands off my portfolio.

  30. Got the first two right (but would have never guessed gold and oil did so well after REITs and failed miserably on the last two questions).

    Regardless, sharpen your #2 pencils. My daughter is only 6 so test administration should be much more lax again by the time you take her SATs for her. ;)

  31. Fun post! I only got one right haha. Very surprised on REITs performance. Wow so fascinating to see how different asset types compare to each other in performance. I may tweak my asset allocation a little bit now :)

    Thanks for all the insights!

  32. What I find most insightful in this graph is how the average investor should literally be doing anything but trying to invest on their own. Can’t even beat inflation! But I think most of the average investors represented on the graph would fail to see themselves as anything other than better than average. That’s biases for you :-).

    I wonder what the graph would look like if it had taken into account the high YTD performance of the S&P. Nevertheless, it’s interesting to see the high performance of REITs over the last 20 years. With the stock market reaching a 10-year bull run, it might be wise to invest a part of the portfolio into REITs. Especially since there’s a low correlation between REITs and stocks.

    Great post!

      1. I think a quote from Quartz says it best:
        “Ultimately, the market is impossible to predict; don’t believe anyone who says otherwise. The best you can do is hold a diversified portfolio of low-cost index funds and steel yourself for the reality that there will be good times and bad times but, over time, the stock market mostly charges ahead.”

        1. Good post.

          I’ve long noticed you not being a fan of gold Sam, can I ask why?

          Ps. I’m not a good bug but hold in a diversified portfolio it has its place.

    1. What correlation do you believe exists between REITS and stocks? My observation, along with what I’ve read from reputable companies, suggests there is a roughly 85% correlation, which I consider fairly high. I prefer to own my RE directly (which includes passively via syndication), but admittedly I havent been investing for decades so still have a skewed perspective.

        1. This is great, thanks. I find it super fascinating that the correlation drops to less than 30% over rolling 5 year time frames. That’s what matters most to me. I guess I was largely comparing results in the 2008 crash, but then again everything tanked together then.

  33. Dave @ Accidental FIRE

    Love the data posts dude, right up my alley! I remember considering buying gold back in the day. One of those ideas that I was to apprehensive to pull the trigger on. I never claimed I was good at this stuff but the S&P 500 got me to financial independence anyway.

  34. That’s very surprising to me. REITs, gold, and oil are top 3. I didn’t think they did that much better than stocks.
    I think investors should expect less return from stocks too. Everyone seems to think stocks will return 9%, but it can’t keep this up forever. I think the next decade will be tough and I’m more conservative now. We’ll see how it goes.

    1. In my portfolio, I’ve been a big proponent of carrying 5-10% REITs to offset stocks and bonds.

      I’d be careful chasing REITs too aggressively because of their lack of diversity though. I’ve seen some people who have been struck by the strong return of REITs and chalk them up as a better alternative to general stock funds. That’s dangerous in my opinion.

    2. A bit misleading though. Gold being number 2 in returns, only because it was at the nadir in 1998/1999 at 400/oz. If you choose last 40 years, gold would have an annualized return of -2% (2200/oz in 1980). So I would take those comparisons with a grain of salt. not to bash on gold, but that chart makes it look like a winner, but compared to other asset classes pretty clear loser going back 40 years

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