Despite recent volatility the S&P 500 total return year-to-date is more than 16% and this offers a very positive impression about market performance. But do not let them fool you.
Year-to-date SPY (adjusted) is gaining 16.2%.
This performance is only due to a V-bottom formed conveniently at the end of last year to the point that makes even the most fierce opponents of conspiracy theories skeptical about the timing.
But this is the performance of SPY since 09/20/2018: below 1%.
Note that the maximum drawdown was about 18% before the recovery started.
Therefore, index fund operators (not managers because they do not manage anything in reality) can claim high returns year-to-date and possibly for the year if the market stabilizes around these levels but for anyone who invested with them around September 2018 the results are close to zero.
Do not let them fool you: the performance system was designed to benefit the operators and managers, not the customers. They designed it after all.
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