During times of extreme market stress, even long-term focused investors may sometimes wonder if they would benefit from trying to time the market. We would caution against this.
For instance, if you missed out on the best 5 days in the market from 2000 to the end of 2019, your returns dropped by over 2% a year (see chart below – click to enlarge). Staying in the market versus trying to time it (and be wrong) was the way to go.
When were those 5 best days you had to stay invested in to get better returns? The five best days in the S&P from 2000 through 2019 were all during the height of the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009:
The Five Biggest One Day Percentage Gains in the S&P 500 from 2000-2019
October 13, 2008 +11.6%
October 28, 2008 +10.8%
November 13, 2008 +6.9
March 13, 2009 +9.3%
March 23, 2009 +7.1%
Staying invested during these days was nerve racking. During this time companies such as Lehman Brothers, Washington Mutual, Merrill Lynch and AIG collapsed. One had to sit tight, staying invested through the market low on March 9, 2009 and then not give up on stocks as the market eventually went higher for a full decade. If you did that, you were rewarded.
Was it easy? If you were in the markets during the financial crisis–you remember-it was tough. But itis important torealize that missing out on a market rebound could be even tougher on your long-term financial plan.