Mention a financial asset of any type that you can think of. How did it perform 2015? The answer most likely will be: not that impressive.
It might have made a little money. It might have lost a little money. But, barring any drastic moves in the final trading days of 2015, the most widely held classes of assets, including stocks and bonds across the globe, were basically flat. In the United States, for example, a whopping 1.98 percent return on the Standard & Poor’s stock index (including reinvested dividends) as of the Dec. 28 closing price was roughly matched by a 1.07 percent return on intermediate-term Treasury bonds.
While that may be disappointing news for people who hoped to see big returns from at least some portion of their portfolio, it is excellent news for anyone who wants to see a steady global economic expansion without new bubbles and all the volatility that can bring.
If you look back to the middle of 2014, a wide range of stocks, bonds, real estate and other financial assets were at the high end of their historical valuations. At the time, we called it the “everything boom.” A continued steep rise from there could have put many asset prices firmly in a bubble, placing them at risk for a debilitating correction. Instead, the global rally in asset prices has taken something of a breather.