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Historical Stock Market Returns

A bit of a different post today: I wanted to share a spreadsheet that I maintain, which includes a good deal of data regarding historical stock and bond returns (in the U.S.).

Click here to download the spreadsheet.

Historical Return Data Included:

If, for example, you wanted to know any of the following, you could find it in the spreadsheet:

  1. The return of the U.S. stock market for each calendar year from 1928-2008.
  2. The nominal return for stocks or 10-year T-Bonds for any 3-year, 5-year, 10-year, 25-year, or 30-year period between 1928 and 2008.
  3. The inflation-adjusted version of #2 above.
  4. How you would have fared if you’d been dollar-cost-averaging into the market across any 10-year period from 1928-2008.
  5. The standard deviation of stock or bond market returns over 1-year, 3-year, 5-year, 10-year, 20-year, and 30-year periods from 1928-2008.
  6. Changes in gold prices each year from 1900-2008.


My thanks go to the following people/organizations for the underlying data:

Other Notes

I’m not perfect, and the data might not be either. If, after downloading the spreadsheet, you have any questions or see any errors in any of my calculations, please let me know.

Lastly, please remember that past performance is exactly that: past performance, not to be confused with future performance.

Enjoy. 🙂

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  1. Rick Francis says


    Thank you for sharing the spreadsheet- it looks like you put a lot of work into it. Do you have any conclusions that you have drawn from all of that data?

    -Rick Francis

  2. Well, it could be used to draw any number of conclusions. I figured I’d leave that up to all of you though. That’s the fun part after all. 🙂

    My conclusions as applied to my own portfolio shouldn’t surprise you: I intend to maximize my holding period (i.e., “buy & hold”). And my asset allocation is stock-heavy given that I have at least a few decades prior to retirement.

  3. I believe that looking at the historical stock-return data is the key to becoming a successful long-term investor. I’m not a numbers-oriented person by nature (not by a long shot!). But I think that we need something objective to look at. Otherwise, you’ll hear 10 different “experts” advance 10 different theories of what stocks are going to do.

    The historical data doesn’t tell us all we need to know. But it provides a valuable grounding in some objective realities. As you note, the interpretation of those realities is something different.

    Thanks for the work you put into creating the spreadsheet, Mike.


  4. vulcan alex says

    Gee since past performance does not indicate future performance and we don’t have a time machine, this data means little. Just saying by common logic a lot of work with this data is a lot of work wasted.

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