I realize what I am about to say goes against the conventional wisdom that the stock markets are in a secular bear market. Generally, I was buying into that concept myself until I took a look at the perennial Dow Jones Industrial Average over many decades.
The lower line (in gold) shows what the Dow looks like if all inflation is removed since year 1900. The value of the Dow is presently under 1000 in “year 1900 constant dollars.”
The top trend line (red) from the 1929 top to the 1966 top (“Nifty Fifty” era) shows that a new Secular Bull Market began in 1997 and was re-tested with the March 2009 low. It has since bounced higher off that line, which means that as of July 14, 2010, we are still in a Secular Bull Market, contrary to popular opinion.
The reason it is important to remove inflation from a long term chart is that over 110 years, inflation has dramatically distorted the values of the Dow compared to where it once was. By removing inflation from the chart of the Dow, we can now see that the line is no longer “a mountain,” but rather a line that appears to be under-valued in terms of all the technological/ scientific/ productivity increases the US/ and global economy has witnessed the past 81 years since the 1929 top. So long as the Dow does not drop below the 2009 bottom (Dow 6500 in current terms), we will remain in a secular bull market, meaning that investors with a very long time horizon should be able to make profits in the stock market.