The 2010s will go down in history as the decade of the longest-ever bull market. What a relief for investors after the bear market of the preceding ten years, which made the 2000s the worst decade for the stock market since the 1930s .
The S&P 500 index (SPX) richly rewarded investors over the last decade. The equities benchmark did so well that the 2010s produced this astonishing headline from Business Insider (May 2019): “Even Warren Buffett can’t beat the stock market.”
The average closing level for the S&P 500 in Jan 2010 was 1,123.58 . With just two trading days left in the decade, the average close was 3,159.85 for Dec 2019. Using these figures to calculate ROI, that represents a 181% return over the last decade.
But stocks weren’t the biggest profit winners. What makes the 2010s all the more remarkable was the emergence of a new asset class entirely, one made possible by the Internet — cryptocurrency. Bitcoin, the top performing crypto, delivered the highest returns of any investment in any asset class over the last ten years.
Below are the top performing securities in each of three asset classes for the last decade, ranked by ROI in descending order: Cryptocurrency, S&P 500 stocks, and Commodities.
Bitcoin (Coinbase: BTC/USD) – 295,999,900% ROI(!) as of Dec 2019
From the time the first bitcoin was “mined” in 2009 until early 2010, the digital “coins” had no market value. The first documented real world bitcoin transaction took place on May 21, 2010. A programmer in Florida sent 10,000 BTC to a volunteer in England to pay for a pizza ordered from Papa John’s for about $25.
Using that May 2010 exchange rate of $0.0025 per bitcoin, and the cryptocurrency’s USD exchange rate of $7,400 on Coinbase at 18:00 UTC on Dec 29, 2019, bitcoin’s ROI over the last decade was a totally-not-believable, yet completely real 296M% ROI.
Bitcoin’s annualized ROI over the past ten years was 359% .
Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) – 3680% ROI
The best performing S&P500 stock of the last decade was Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX). According to Investopedia, Netflix stock’s ten year ROI for the 2010s was 3,680% as of Dec 2019.
But NFLX wasn’t always a source of steady streaming profits for investors . The tech stock seemed promising at the time of its 2002 IPO, but its price growth spent half a decade buffering starting in 2004.
Subscriber growth and original content were its rocket fuel in the 2010s. Like bitcoin, whether or not Netflix is actually worth all of its gains in the 2010s is a subject of controversy.
Palladium (PA: NMX) – 354% ROI
According to RCM Alternatives, palladium was the top commodities performer of the last decade. It beat other commodities by a mile. RCMA pegs Palladium returns for the 2010s at 354% as of Dec 2019 .
Palladium’s value as an investment grade precious metal derives from its commercial applications in automobiles and electronics. Its growth outpaced lumber (95% ten-year ROI), feeder cattle (47% ten-year ROI), and live cattle (40% ten-year ROI) for top performing commodity of the 2010s. It also beat its precious metal peers, gold (35% ten-year ROI), copper (21% ten-year ROI), and silver (0% ten-year ROI).