Had you been unlucky enough to have invested $100 in the S&P on the last day of September, 1929 and held on to your shares, it would have taken you 184 months (or 15.33 years) to get back above your $100 investment. Check out this graph to see what I mean:
Not counting inflation, your annualized rate of return over those 15.33 years would have been a whopping .12% (and that includes dividends)!!!!! How so? Well, here’s the math:
Beginning Value = $100.00
Ending Value = $101.83
Number of Years = 15.33
Now, had you held on for 20 years (through September 1949), your average annual rate of return would have increased to 2.03%. Wait another 5 years and your average annual ROR increases to 5.93%, which is respectable considering just how bad things were.
In this particular case remember: Stocks for the really long run!