You don’t hear much about bronze anniversaries. But today is one of them, and it’s sure worth celebrating.
How so? Because this is the eighth anniversary of the day the U.S. stock market bottomed out after suffering through a terrifying 57 percent decline triggered by the financial crisis. Bronze, you see, is the appropriate gift for an eighth anniversary, at least according to Wikipedia.
The markets have given investors a lot to celebrate since that hideous day eight years ago, when stocks seemed to be in free fall with no end in sight. Both the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index and the Wilshire 5000 had peaked on Oct. 7, 2007, and fallen 57 percent — okay, 56.8 percent for the S&P and 56.6 percent for the Wilshire — before striking what turned out to be the bottom on March 9, 2009.
Since then, both indexes have more than tripled. And the market value of U.S. stocks has risen by $21.2 trillion, according to Wilshire Associates.
There’s an interesting market-obsessing parallel between the early days of the Obama administration in 2009 and the early days of the Trump administration. Back then, the Wilshire daily market summary began including a sentence about how much stocks had declined since Barack Obama’s inauguration; these days, the summary notes how much stocks have gained since Donald Trump’s inauguration.
That’s despite the fact that no matter what the supposed market gurus say in public, attributing the performance of stocks to the president is silly, unless he does something dramatic that either cheers or badly upsets the market on a particular day. Blaming or crediting the president for what the market does over an extended period attributes far more power to him than he actually has.
Our current bull market, which turns eight years old on Friday, has been an extraordinarily long one — about 60 percent longer than the average bull run, according to Howard Silverblatt, senior index analyst at S&P Dow Jones Indices. Silverblatt, who likes to have fun with numbers, sent me a note a few days ago showing, he said, that the age of the current bull market was equivalent to 127.1 human years.
The source of the number? Silverblatt divided the length of this bull market (95.9 months) by the length of the average bull market (59.8 months) and then multiplied that result by 79.3, the U.S. longevity number. Voilà! You get 127 and a bit of change.
Another interesting perspective comes from Bob Waid, managing director of Wilshire Analytics.
Waid says that if you owned the Wilshire 5000 at the top of the market in 2007 and held on throughout the plunge and subsequent recovery, it took a bit over three years from the bottom — until March 13, 2012 — to get back to where you had been at the peak. That’s provided that you reinvested the dividends your holding generated.
“Without dividends reinvested, it took an additional 10½ months — until Jan. 25, 2013 — to fully recover from the loss,” he said. “This shows the value of dividend reinvestment.”
Okay. Now that we’ve put the past in perspective, where does the market go from here? Where will stocks be on the pottery anniversary of the market bottom next year, or on the tin anniversary in 2019? I don’t know — and nobody knows. History is a guide. But it’s not a map of the future.