Course 103: Investing for the Long Run
Volatility of the Stock Market
In this course
1 Introduction
2 Volatility of Single Stocks
3 Volatility of the Stock Market
4 Over the Long Term, Stocks Are Best
5 Time Is on Your Side
6 Why Stocks Perform the Best
7 The Bottom Line

One way of reducing the risk of investing in individual stocks is by holding a larger number of stocks in a portfolio. However, even a portfolio of stocks containing a wide variety of companies can fluctuate wildly. You may experience large losses over short periods. Market dips, sometimes significant, are simply part of investing in stocks.

For example, consider the Dow Jones Industrials Index, a basket of 30 of the most popular, and some of the best, companies in America. If during the last 100 years you had held an investment tracking the Dow, there would have been 10 different occasions when that investment would have lost 40% or more of its value.

The yearly returns in the stock market also fluctuate dramatically. The highest one-year rate of return of 67% occurred in 1933, while the lowest one-year rate of return of negative 53% occurred in 1931. It should be obvious by now that stocks are volatile, and there is a significant risk if you cannot ride out market losses in the short term. But don't worry; there is a bright side to this story.

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