Morgan Housel presents 100 startling facts about the economy. Here's a few of them.
1. As of January 2013, there are 16 people left in the world who were
born in the 1800s, according to the Gerontology Research Group. With
dividends reinvested, U.S. stocks have increased 28,000-fold during
5. According to a study by Harvard professor David Wise and two
colleagues, 46.1% of Americans die with less than $10,000 in assets.
6. There are 3.8 million fewer Americans aged 30 to 44 today than there were a decade ago.
7. Related: The population of Americans aged 30 to 44 is about to start increasing for the first time since 2000.
8. Since 1928, the Dow Jones has increased more than 10% in a single
day eight times, declined more than 10% in a single day four times, and
gone either up or down more than 5% in a single day 136 times.
14. Including dividends, the S&P 500 gained 135% from March 2009
through January 2013, during what people remember as the "Great
Recession." It gained the exact same amount from 1996 to 2000, during
what people remember as the "greatest bull market in history."
15. "97% of the world's population now lives in countries where the fertility rate is falling," writes author Jonathan Last.
17. In 1980, there were 15,099 Americans aged 100 years or more. By
1990, there were 36,486, and by 2012 there were 88,510, according to the
21. Despite the overall population doubling, more babies were born in the U.S. in 1956 than were born in 2009, 2010, or 2011.
22. According to The Telegraph, "Four in 10 girls born today
is expected to live to 100. ... If trends continue, the majority of
girls born in 2060 -- some 60 per cent -- will live to see 2160."
24. Netflix surged more than 50% on Jan. 24 from the previous day's low. $1,000 invested in short-term call options would have been worth $2 million in less than 24 hours. (Please don't try this at home.)
27. According to Bloomberg, "The 50 stocks in the S&P 500 with
the lowest analyst ratings at the end of 2011 posted an average return
of 23 percent [in 2012], outperforming the index by 7 percentage
29. Thanks in large part to cellphone cameras, "Ten percent of all of
the photographs made in the entire history of photography were made
last year," according to Time.
32. Fortune magazine published an article titled "10 Stocks
To Last the Decade" in August, 2000. By December 2012, the portfolio had
lost 74.3% of its value, according to analyst Barry Ritholtz.
40. Two news headlines published on the same day last September
summed up the U.S. economy perfectly: "U.S. Median Income Lowest Since
1995, " and "Ferrari sales surge to record highs."
41. According to ConvergEx Group, "Only 58% of us are even saving for
retirement in the first place. Of that group, 60% have less than
$25,000 put away. ... A full 30% have less than $1,000."
43. Since 1928, the S&P 500 has closed at a new all-time high 1,024 times, or 4.8% of all trading days.
45. One in seven crimes committed in New York City now involves an
Apple product being stolen, according to NYPD records cited by ABC News.
46. In the first quarter of 2012, the number of iPhones Apple sold
per day surpassed the number of babies born per day worldwide (402,000
vs. 300,000), according to Mobile First.
48. According to economist Glen Weyl, "Of Harvard students graduating
in early '90s and pursuing careers in finance, 1/3 were making over $1
million a year by 2005."
49. According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, 44% of
those working for minimum wage in 2010 had attended at least some
college, up from 25% in 1979.
52. The number of workers aged 55 and up is about to surpass the number of workers aged 24 to 34 for the first time ever.
53. In 2011, Asia had more millionaires than North America for the first time ever, according to RBC Wealth Management.
55. The IRS estimates that illegal tax-evasion reduced government tax
revenue by $450 billion in 2006 (the most recent year calculated).
That's roughly equal to what the government spends annually on Medicare.
56. According to The Wall Street Journal, "The average
monthly mortgage payment on a median-price home in October, assuming a
10% down payment, fell to $720 at prevailing rates, down from nearly
$1,270 at the end of 2005."
59. In 2012, the Greek stock market (ATHEX Index) outperformed the
Chinese stock market (Shanghai Composite) by 48 percentage points.
62. According to BetterInvesting, the number of investment clubs has declined by 90% since 1998 from 400,000 to 39,000.
68. Last year, Franklin Templeton asked 1,000 investors whether the
S&P 500 went up or down in 2009 and 2010. Sixty-six percent thought
it went down in 2009, while 48% said it declined in 2010. In reality,
the index gained 26.5% in 2009 and 15.1% in 2010.
70. "Of the Americans who earn over $150,000, 82 percent had a
bachelor's degree. Just 6.5 percent had no more than a high school
diploma," writes Catherine Rampell of The New York Times.
75. According to economist Stephen Bronars, the new 39.6% federal tax
bracket will only affect 0.7% of taxpayers but will hit 9.5% of
aggregate personal income, as top earners earn a disproportionate share
of the national income.
77. According to Gallup, 51.3% of Americans consider themselves
"thriving," 45.1% say they are "struggling," and 3.6% say they're
78. An average couple will pay $155,000 in in 401(k)
fees over their careers, according to Demos, reducing an average account
balance from $510,000 to $355,000.
79. Related: 84% of actively managed U.S. stock funds underperformed the S&P 500 in 2011.
80. According to The Wall Street Journal, 49.1% of Americans
live in a household "where at least one member received some type of
government benefit in the first quarter of 2011."
83. "By 2050, workers' median age in China and Japan will be about 50, a
decade higher than in America," writes Robert Samuelson.
85. The U.S. birthrate declined 8% from 2007 to 2010, according to Pew.
At 63.2 per 1,000 women of childbearing age, the 2011 U.S. birthrate was
the lowest since records began in 1920.
86. According to Wired magazine, "In a 2006 survey, 30 percent
of people without a high school degree said that playing the lottery was
a wealth-building strategy. ... On average, households that make less
than $12,400 a year spend 5 percent of their income on lotteries."
88. We are used to hearing how much faster the
earnings of the top 1% grow compared with everyone else's, but we often
forget that it used to be the other way around. From 1943 to 1980, the
annual incomes of the bottom 90% of Americans doubled in real terms,
while the average income of the top 1% grew just 23%, according to
89. According to Vanguard founder John Bogle, the average equity mutual
fund gained 173% from 1997 to 2011, but the average equity mutual fund
investor earned only 110%, thanks to the tendency to buy high and sell
94. According to The Economist, "Over the past ten years, hedge-fund managers have underperformed not just the stock market, but inflation as well."
95. According to Bloomberg, "Americans have missed out on almost $200
billion of stock gains as they drained money from the market in the past
four years, haunted by the financial crisis.
97. S&P 500 companies held $900 billion in cash at the end of June,
according to Thomson Reuters. That was up 40% since 2008.
98. "More than 50 million Americans couldn't afford to buy food at some
point in 2011," writes CNNMoney, citing U.S. Department of Agriculture
data. In June 2012, 46.7 million Americans received food stamps.
99. Japan's working-age population is on track to decline from 62.6% of its population in 2012 to just 49.1% by 2050.
100. The unemployment rate for those with a bachelor's degree is just 3.7% -- less than half the nationwide average.