History favors bold buyers of S&P 500 index funds

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“History repeats the old conceits,” musician Elvis Costello sang in “Beyond Belief.”

For investors now, confronted with share prices many U.S. market observers consider overvalued, belief that stocks will move even higher would seem a clear display of hubris. And putting money behind that conceit would appear foolish at best.

Except history shows that when the broad U.S. market retraces a correction, as it has this year, there’s often still more gas in the tank. Enough, in fact, for a representative index such as the S&P 500 to advance perhaps as much as 10% from its pre-correction high.

Of course, every song has an all-knowing chorus. At some point, investors surely will be singing the same refrain about stocks that Elvis did about relationships: “I got a feeling/I’m going to get a lot of grief/Once this seemed so appealing/Now I am beyond belief.”

— Jonathan Burton

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