The S&P 500 Index embarked on a historically long rally last decade. At the end of 2009, the benchmark was nine months into what would become the longest bull market on record (129 months and counting). Since then, the S&P 500’s price has almost tripled, riding a wave of economic growth, improved earnings, muted inflation, and central bank accommodation.
However, the equities rally has been slow and steady compared to history, even with a few strong years mixed in. The S&P 500 has grown at an 11.2% annualized rate over the past 10 years, the fourth-slowest pace among all decades since 1950. Though the growth rate trailed other decades, price appreciation closer to long-term averages helped keep sentiment in check and sustain the bull market [Figure 1].