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Saturday, May 14, 2011

BlackRock 2010 Periodic Table of Returns and Macroeconomic Data

For those who take the long view in investing, the BlackRock "20 Year Periodic Table of Returns" looked at yesterday is a useful DIY investor analytical tool. It shows yearly performance of various market segments including value, growth, small cap and large cap stock indices. It shows performance of bonds as well as cash equivalents and a foreign sector. It also throws in the performance of what I like most - a diversified portfolio. 

In viewing the chart, keep in mind that it shows one 20-year path. The path corresponds to a particular economic backdrop. It occurred to me that some DIYers might wonder about the economic background in terms of specific macroeconomic magnitudes as they view the path of returns and like to know where they can view a graph of macroeconomic magnitudes.

Actually, this can be accomplished easily with the Economagic site. 

For example, to view the broad economic background, here is an easy way of drawing a 20-year graph of real Gross Domestic Product (GDP). GDP is the market value of the total output of goods and services for a particular period of time. A useful way to think of GDP is that it would be the cost if you wanted to buy all goods and services produced within a country over the past 12 months. Real GDP adjusts for the impact of prices over time.

To get the graph, go to and click "Most Requested Series." At the top is "Real Gross Domestic Product." Click "chart." Scroll down slightly and change the starting and end dates to correspond to the BlackRock table. I also like to put in grid lines and recession bars as shown:


Scroll down and click "make char.t. It's that easy!

Source: Economagic

The chart shows  that, over the period covered by the BlackRock chart, the U.S. economy experienced 3 recessions - was actually coming out of a recession at the beginning of the period. The last recession is actually called the "Great Recession." It was the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

At the Economagic site, the reader will note the many variables that can be plotted, including interest rates and monetary magnitudes. Actually, more than one series can be put on a graph. Also note that the data can be transformed in various ways which you'll want to do with inflation indicators, for example.

By the way - if you want to buy all the goods and services produced in the U.S. over the past 12 months you'll need approximately 15 trillion dollars!


  1. "By the way - if you want to buy all the goods and services produced in the U.S. over the past 12 months you'll need approximately 15 trillion dollars!"

    That is interesting! I would like to know what is the average - does this mean that we are doing well?

  2. re:MoneyCone Depends, I would say yes. According to the chart above, real GDP almost doubled over 20 years. A doubling would be a 3.6% growth rate (by the "rule" of 72). In closer to home terms our automobiles are bigger as are our houses. We have much more in the way of electronic gadgets etc.