Are you better off now?  This is not meant as a political question.  We’re actually trying to make an important point regarding investor behavior.

As of September 14, the S&P 500 index with dividends is 87% higher than it was on inauguration day, January 19, 2009.

This fact shocks many people because it’s just hard to believe given the financial fallout of the Great Recession and the ensuing slow recovery.  As humans we tend to be backward looking.  The pain we experienced collectively and personally persists.  However, the stock market is focused on the future and investors judge the long-run prospects of the entire U.S. economy to be strong.

Bottom line:  Your personal experience, economic opinions, and intuition are often a poor guide to managing your investments. 

For example, is your stock portfolio up 87% as well or did you invest emotionally and cash out at the depths of the Great Recession?