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Visualizing the Growth of $100, by Asset Class (1970-2023)

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See this visualization first on the Voronoi app.

This line chart shows the growth of a $100 investment between 1970 and 2023, by asset class.

Visualizing the Growth of $100, by Asset Class

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Which major asset class has generated the strongest returns over the long run? How do the returns of investments like bonds and real estate actually stack up?

To put investment returns in perspective, this graphic shows the growth of $100 by asset class over the long term, based on data from Aswath Damodaran at NYU Stern.

Comparing Asset Class Returns

Below, we show the returns of a $100 investment across major asset classes—from U.S. stocks to gold—between 1970 and 2023:

YearS&P 500Corporate
Bonds
GoldU.S. 10-Year
Treasury Bonds
Real EstateCash
1970$100$100$100$100$100$100
1980$226$181$1,578$141$229$192
1990$823$741$1,033$477$374$431
2000$4,060$1,886$734$1,067$536$682
2010$4,656$4,191$3,760$1,821$693$840
2020$16,890$8,349$5,059$2,802$1,155$891
2023$22,419$7,775$5,545$2,286$1,542$956

Numbers have been rounded. S&P 500 includes dividends. Cash represented by 3-Month U.S. T-Bills. Corporate Bonds represented by Baa corporate bonds. Real Estate represented by the Case-Shiller Home Price Index.

As we can see, a $100 investment in the S&P 500 (including reinvested dividends) in 1970 would be worth an impressive $22,419 in 2023.

Not only were U.S. stocks the top performing major asset class, they outpaced other investments by a wide margin. Consider how a $100 investment in corporate bonds would have grown to $7,775 over the period, or 65% lower than an investment in the S&P 500.

When it comes to gold, a $100 investment would have been worth $5,545 by 2023. During the 1970s and 2000s, gold boomed amid bouts of inflation and a falling U.S. dollar. By comparison, the S&P 500 saw much lower returns over these decades.

Real estate, another safe haven asset, grew on average 5.5% annually since 1970, with the highest gains seen in the decade through 2020. It’s worth noting that these numbers are from the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which is based on purely price changes over time.

Given that real estate is a unique asset class, this doesn’t necessarily illustrate the returns that homeowners actually receive, factoring in leverage, property taxes, insurance, and other expenses. From this price perspective, a $100 investment would have grown to just $1,542 by 2023 due to slower price growth through the 1980s and 2000s weighing on overall gains.

During both periods, the housing market crashed, taking years for the sector to fully recover. In fact, following the Global Financial Crisis, it took a decade for home prices to climb to their previous 2006 peak.

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How Debt-to-GDP Ratios Have Changed Since 2000

See how much the debt-to-GDP ratios of advanced economies have grown (or shrank) since the year 2000.

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How Debt-to-GDP Ratios Have Changed Since 2000

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on Apple or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Government debt levels have grown in most parts of the world since the 2008 financial crisis, and even more so after the COVID-19 pandemic.

To gain perspective on this long-term trend, we’ve visualized the debt-to-GDP ratios of advanced economies, as of 2000 and 2024 (estimated). All figures were sourced from the IMF’s World Economic Outlook.

Data and Highlights

The data we used to create this graphic is listed in the table below. “Government gross debt” consists of all liabilities that require payment(s) of interest and/or principal in the future.

Country2000 (%)2024 (%)Change (pp)
🇯🇵 Japan135.6251.9+116.3
🇸🇬 Singapore82.3168.3+86.0
🇺🇸 United States55.6126.9+71.3
🇬🇧 United Kingdom36.6105.9+69.3
🇬🇷 Greece104.9160.2+55.3
🇫🇷 France58.9110.5+51.6
🇵🇹 Portugal54.2104.0+49.8
🇪🇸 Spain57.8104.7+46.9
🇸🇮 Slovenia25.966.5+40.6
🇫🇮 Finland42.476.5+34.1
🇭🇷 Croatia35.461.8+26.4
🇨🇦 Canada80.4103.3+22.9
🇨🇾 Cyprus56.070.9+14.9
🇦🇹 Austria65.774.0+8.3
🇸🇰 Slovak Republic50.556.5+6.0
🇩🇪 Germany59.364.0+4.7
🇧🇪 Belgium109.6106.8-2.8
🇮🇱 Israel77.456.8-20.6
🇮🇸 Iceland75.854.6-21.2

The debt-to-GDP ratio indicates how much a country owes compared to the size of its economy, reflecting its ability to manage and repay debts. Percentage point (pp) changes shown above indicate the increase or decrease of these ratios.

Countries with the Biggest Increases

Japan (+116 pp), Singapore (+86 pp), and the U.S. (+71 pp) have grown their debt as a percentage of GDP the most since the year 2000.

All three of these countries have stable, well-developed economies, so it’s unlikely that any of them will default on their growing debts. With that said, higher government debt leads to increased interest payments, which in turn can diminish available funds for future government budgets.

This is a rising issue in the U.S., where annual interest payments on the national debt have surpassed $1 trillion for the first time ever.

Only 3 Countries Saw Declines

Among this list of advanced economies, Belgium (-2.8 pp), Iceland (-21.2 pp), and Israel (-20.6 pp) were the only countries that decreased their debt-to-GDP ratio since the year 2000.

According to Fitch Ratings, Iceland’s debt ratio has decreased due to strong GDP growth and the use of its cash deposits to pay down upcoming maturities.

See More Debt Graphics from Visual Capitalist

Curious to see which countries have the most government debt in dollars? Check out this graphic that breaks down $97 trillion in debt as of 2023.

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Voronoi, the app by Visual Capitalist. Where data tells the story. Download on App Store or Google Play

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