See, for example, http://www.dljdirect.com/hti_t01.htm , for a quick
table comparing inflation-adjusted returns for various asset classes.
Over the long run, stock strategies such as buying the S&P 500 index
whomp investments in either bonds or short-term instruments, or cash,
adjusted for inflation.
There are perhaps reasons why one might choose not to invest in US stocks,
but over the long haul, net net returns and inflation resistance aren't among
them. Short term instruments (T-bills, commercial paper, cash) are
particularly poor investments over the long term, even during inflationary
periods [though less so then long-term debt during the same period if you
need to trade the bonds during the bout of inflation]).
These market behaviors are USA-specific. I don't know of any comparable
measures for non-USA investment environments but I'm sure they could be dug
up. Financial markets outside the USA have historically tended to be more
volatile (risky) for various reasons, such as lower liquidity, increased
political risk, and others.
Of course, dissenting views exist. See, for example,
http://viking.som.yale.edu/will/newsclips/5912206a.htm (Google is my friend)
Disclaimer: I work for a Wall Street firm in asset management (but on systems,
-- /rs Rob Sweeney firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.rsie.com/ Time is a warning.
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