Saturday, January 16, 2010

Why Many Investors Keep Fooling Themselves

Jason Zweig's lastest in the WSJ:

What are we smoking, and when will we stop?

A nationwide survey last year found that investors expect the U.S. stock market to return an annual average of 13.7% over the next 10 years.

Robert Veres, editor of the Inside Information financial-planning newsletter, recently asked his subscribers to estimate long-term future stock returns after inflation, expenses and taxes, what I call a "net-net-net" return. Several dozen leading financial advisers responded. Although some didn't subtract taxes, the average answer was 6%. A few went as high as 9%.

We all should be so lucky. Historically, inflation has eaten away three percentage points of return a year. Investment expenses and taxes each have cut returns by roughly one to two percentage points a year. All told, those costs reduce annual returns by five to seven points.

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