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Stock market winners 10 years on

It has been 10 years since the end of the 2003-2007 global China/credit boom, and it is time to check in on how stock markets have fared since then. The left chart ranks countries by their broad share price index growth over the past decade. Only 36 of the 62 main stock markets are ahead of their pre-GFC highs. The right chart shows average economic growth rates per country over the same period, in the same country order as the market performance, to demonstrate if economic growth relates to share price growth.

Among the ‘developed’ markets, Denmark won the gold medal in January 2013 for being the first stock market to surpass its pre-GFC peak, and it is now 126% ahead (i.e. more than double its pre-GFC peak). The silver medal went to the US in March 2013 and bronze went to the UK in May 2013. [See previous articles, Stock market Olympics, and the winners are and Australia can learn from gold medal winner, Denmark].

As usual there has been no statistical relationship between economic growth and share prices when measured across countries. Australia has been the so-called ‘miracle economy’ with the strongest long-term economic growth rate in the ‘developed’ world, and it did not even suffer an economic recession in the GFC, thanks to a deficit spending spree our grandchildren will be paying off. Yet the local stock market index (in price terms, not accumulation including dividends) is still behind its November 2007 high.

In contrast, the US, UK, Western Europe, Canada and even New Zealand suffered far lower economic growth rates in the GFC and over the past 10 years, but they have generated much stronger share prices than Australia. Denmark, the stand-out gold medallist stock market in the developed world, has had virtually no economic growth over the past 10 years. At the other end of the scale, China had the fastest economic growth rate over the past decade (and the largest aggregate growth in human history) but has had one of the worst stock markets.

Another common feature is that countries with the strongest stock markets often suffer political, economic or social turmoil and this was the case again - e.g. Argentina, Venezuela, Pakistan, Philippines, Turkey and Mexico.

There are many reasons for differences in share prices in different countries of course, but this quick snapshot is a useful reminder of the folly of focusing on economic growth as a pointer to share prices.

 

Ashley Owen is Chief Investment Officer at advisory firm Stanford Brown and The Lunar Group. He is also a Director of Third Link Investment Managers, a fund that supports Australian charities. This article is general information that does not consider the circumstances of any individual.

 

6 Comments
Phil
January 29, 2018

Is 10 years really long enough for it to be statistically sound. The article uses the word statistical basis. It's one period and correlations can change depending on a number of other variables, not just GDP.

Albert
January 28, 2018

True that GDP does not correlated with Stock returns. Markets rise and fall.

Some points to note :
1. Few of us would invest in countries like uninformed, poorly developed, small third world markets - so this is largely irrelevant in our investable universe.

2. We need to have a large investment in our locale of domicile to match risk and liability/needs. Yes, we can hedge currency but there is a cost to wear which comes off your long term return.

3. Given that we invest in largely open and efficient markets the long term returns will equalise i.e. investors will appropriately price high vs low growth stock markets resulting in rational returns for risk. Overseas have done well for now but this will change too.

ashley
December 01, 2017

hi Chris -
regarding inflation - i also measure each market after its domestic inflation.
In addition I also measure each in terms of AUD returns on both a hedged AUD basis and un-hedged AUD. So there are dozens of ways of measuring returns.
For the above story I used the domestic nominal returns in each country in the local currency of each country - in order to show what the stock market for each country did for local investors in that country - because most investors have a heavy 'home bias' and think primarily about their own market in their own currency when then think about shares.
So back to returns after inflation - Australia actually does considerably worse on real returns because our inflation rate is significantly higher than other developed world markets - eg Europe, US, UK and Japan.
Cheers
Ashley

Chris Jankowski
December 01, 2017

It looks to me that the results reported for the two top places - Venezuela and Argentina are completely bogus. Both of these countries had periods of uncontrolled and under reported high inflation. The simplistic comparison most likely ignores that.

By these standards the undisputed leader, had it been reported, would certainly be Zimbabwe.

ashley
November 30, 2017

hi mark

Adding dividends (and even adding franking credits) doesn't get the ASX anywhere near the leaders. ASX total returns including divs only gets us +37% ahead of its 2007 high.
And adding franking credits as well only gets it to +62% above the 2007 high. That is still below the S&P500 PRICE index which is +66% ahead (before dividends), and it is still some 40% below the S&P500 total return index including US dividends.
(and Aust is also still behind other major markets like Japan, UK, Germany and even NZ on a total return basis)

cheers
ashley

Mark Higgins
November 30, 2017

Think you need to factor in our high dividends - eg the all odds Accumulation Index - then we are ahead.

 

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