By Ben Carlson
A Wealth of Common Sense

A favorite long-run chart shows rolling 30-year annual returns.

The lowest annual return over any 30-year period going back to 1926 was 7.8%. That’s what you got had you invested at the peak of the Roaring ‘20s boom in September 1929. You would have lost more than 80% of your investment in the ensuing crash and still made more than 850% in total over 30 years.

Allow me to repeat that stat for the people in the back — the worst 30-year return over the past 100 years or so was a total gain of 850%.1

The best 30-year annual return was 14.8% in the 30 years ending in 1968. This makes sense considering you would have been invested in 1939 following the worst 10-year stretch in history.

The most recent 10-year annual gain through January 2023 was 12.7%. The previous 20 years were up 10.3% per year. And the past 30 years were up 9.8% per year.

I don’t know if we can have a repeat performance over the next 30 or 100 years.

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z - Cover Image: Deconstructing 10-, 20-, and 30-Year Stock Market Returns