Let's start by defining "investing." The definition is simple but often forgotten: Investing is laying out money now to get more money back in the future--more money in real terms, after taking inflation into account.
Now, to get some historical perspective, let's look back at the 34 years before this one--and here we are going to see an almost Biblical kind of symmetry, in the sense of lean years and fat years--to observe what happened in the stock market. Take, to begin with, the first 17 years of the period, from the end of 1964 through 1981. Here's what took place in that interval:
DOW JONES INDUSTRIAL AVERAGE Dec. 31, 1964: 874.12 Dec. 31, 1981: 875.00
Now I'm known as a long-term investor and a patient guy, but that is not my idea of a big move.
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