Here’s an infographic that puts the ups and downs of the stock market in context. It tracks the performance of the US stock market from 1825 to 2018*. Today this includes companies such as Apple and Microsoft.
The US stock market has delivered a positive annual return in 138 of the last 194 years (71% of the time) and a negative annual return in 56 years (29% of the time). The average annual return of the S&P 500 since its inception is approximately 10%.
*Note that different sources of information (and index data collection methodologies) were used depending on the time period. The S&P 500 index was used from 1957 onwards and its predecessor S&P index from the period from 1923 to 1957. The data prior to that was computed by William Goetzmann, Roger Ibbotson et al. Source: “A new historical database for the NYSE 1815 to 1925: Performance and Predictability”, Journal of Financial Markets, Volume 4, Issue 1, January 2001, Page 1-32.