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Investing:
S&P 25 yr Av. Gain
See CPI Inflation Calculator | bls.gov
What this says is that if for example you invested a fixed amount each year in an S&P 500 ETF starting in 1985 you would end up with the same amount in 2010 as if you invested the same amount annually in a instrument that would give you a fixed 6% growth a year.

Average: 7.3%. The early low returns were due to market stagnation from 1966-1983 when the dow hit a psychological barrier at 1,000 and high interest rates and inflation in the late 70's and early 80's. Recent low returns were from the .com bust in 2000 and the recession in 2008.

Probability of a given minimum return based on the number of years above which exceed it.
Return <5% 5-7% 7-9% 9-11% 11-14% All
Years 10 11 7 7 5 40
Probability
return ≥ *
≥3% ≥5% ≥7% ≥9% ≥11%
95% 75% 48% 30% 12%

* You can argue that we know how to control inflation now and we won't have another period like the 70's, but I've worked with economists before and just when they think they've found all the variables that affect a number, something they never thought of comes up.

Why do analysts tell you the average long term gain is 10-12%?
Because they are averaging each yearly gain or loss.
Using Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) - A rate which applied each year over the same period would give the same net gain is more reasonable. E.g.
Value % gain/loss Constant
4.83%
$100 $100.00
$120 20% $104.83
$96 -20% $109.89
$115 20% $115.20
Average 6.7%
CAGR 4.83% Excel function
=RATE(3,0,100,-115)

1950-2014
index Av yearly
gain/loss
CAGR
Dow 11.5% 7.0%
S&P 8.8% 7.5%
Note: The averages don't include dividends, which for the Dow have averaged 3-4% over the last 100 years. Recent S&P dividends are closer to 2%, as companies reinvest more of their profits.

S&P annual gain or loss, bear markets
See: Bear Market Recoveries Since 1950
See S&P 1950-2014
Return loss > 20% loss 10%
to 20%
loss 0
to 10%
profit
0-10%
profit
10-20%
Profit
20-40%
profit
> 40%
Years 3 9 8 10 18 15 1 64
Probability
of return
Loss >10% Loss Profit Profit >10% Profit >20%
19% 31% 69% 53% 25%

See also:
Stock Investors Should Expect 6%-7% Annual Return, Buffett Says - Bloomberg, 2014
S&P 1950-
Other Indices
MSCI World Index.
LONG-TERM INVESTMENT PERFORMANCE | Raymond James
Saving


Consumer Price Index change - Inflation
cpi, consumer price index, inflation

Gas and Oil prices


Salary Growth:

Source: Do Men Really Earn More Than Women? - PayScale.com (2012)
House Prices
house prices, 1975-2014

But houses also got larger.
Year sq ft price $/sq ft
1950 1,000 $7,354 $7.35
1970 1,500 $17,002 $11.33
2006 2,500 $227,100 $90.84
Price per square ft increased an average of 4.6%/year from 1950 to 2006.
Note: In metropolitan areas houses can cost more than $200 per sq ft.

Census Bureau data showed:
2006   Median   Average
     $246,500.  $305,900
Sources:
House Price Index Datasets | Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA)
House Price Index for the United States - Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED)
60 Years of Home Prices: The Difference Will Shock You - daveramsey.com
See housing
Intrest Rates
interst rates, 1955-2015 Mortgage rates are as of August, Others are May or June.
See Interest Rates
Links:
Financial Planning
Investing
Retirement
more S&P charts
United States Average Monthly Prime Lending Rate | 1950-2015 | Data | Chart
Shadow Government Statistics - Home Page

last updated 13 May 2015