Invest for the Long Term … Which is How Long?

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How long, exactly, is long term? Financial advisors might quip that it’s how long they’ve been telling clients, “Invest for the long term.” But just how long is long term?

To get at the answer, start by considering a time period that clearly qualifies as long. For example, the 94 years from Jan. 1, 1926, to Dec. 31, 2019. Over that period, there is index performance data for four primary asset classes: large-cap U.S. stocks, small-cap U.S. stocks, U.S. bonds and Treasury bills (cash equivalents).