The Average Hourly Labor Costs Across the European Union: Chart

The Average Hourly Labor Costs Across the European Union is shown in the chart below. The highest hourly wage is in Denmark at €45.80. The lowest hourly wage is in Bulgaria at €6.50. The next two lowest hourly wage countries Hungary and Romania.

As expected the hourly wage in East European countries are much lower than in Western Europe. For example, a factory in Germany may have to pay €36.60 while across the border in Poland it needs to pay just € 11.0. The cost savings are indeed quite high.

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Source: RFE/RL Infographics

In the US, the Federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour. However most states have their own minimum wage laws. Many US firms especially in the manufacturing industry save substantial labor costs by their production facilities to Mexico where the minimum Federal wage is just 141.70 pesos per day or about $7.08 per day.

S&P 500 Calendar Year Returns 1925 To 2020: Chart

Equities are the best asset class to own for building wealth over the long-term. Stocks tend to yield a positive return when held over many years. However this does not mean they go up year after year consistently. Instead over many decades there will be some years where the market shoots higher and some when the market declines. To put it another way, bull market will be followed by bear market and vice versa. The key point to remember is by holding stocks for the long-term investors can even out the positive and negative returns and still earn a positive return as positive years are greater than negative years.

In fact, since 1946 there have been 14 bear markets. But each one of them ended leading to a bull market. The following chart shows the calendar year returns for the S&P 500 index from 1925 to 2020:

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Source: 5 Lessons From the Bear Market, Fleming Watson

The average annual returns since 1925 is 10.48%.  Though it is highly unlikely one would hold stocks for such a long period, still in shorter decades, positive return years far outweigh negative return years.

Hence the key to success with equity investing is to hold quality stocks for years waiting out periods of adverse markets. The dramatic crash of stocks in early 2020 and the spectacular rise in a few short months is a classic example of this scenario.

Related ETF:

  • SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY)

Disclosure: No Positions

Commodities Go Through Periods of Booms and Busts

Investing in commodities is not for the faint-hearted. It takes nerves of steel to endure years of pain. Generally for most retail investors, investing in commodities directly is not a wise strategy. However commodities do have a role in a well-diversified portfolio. So adding a small percentage of gold for instance can help protect a portfolio during adverse equity market conditions. With that short intro, the following chart shows the growth of $1 from 1970 thru Jan, 2021. The S&P GSCI Index is considered as the benchmark index for commodities:

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Source: How commodities can play an increasingly important role in portfolio diversification, Russell Investments

Over about four decades from 1970, commodities earned an annualized return of 6.24%. However from mid-2008 through Jan, 2021 commodity investors have suffered years of pains. The annualized return over this period of over a decade was a loss of 12.7%.

Below are the most actively traded commodities in the world:

  • WTI Crude Oil
  • Brent Crude Oil
  • Natural Gas
  • Soybeans
  • Corn
  • Gold
  • Copper
  • Silver

Source: Futures Industry Association

Related ETFs:

  • SPDR Gold Trust ETF (GLD)
  • United States Oil Fund LP (USO)
  • iShares Silver Trust (SLV)

Disclosures: No Positions

Related article:

Notable S&P 500 Drawdown and Recovery Cycles: Chart

The dramatic decline of the S&P 500 last March and the subsequent melt-up is one of the faster recoveries in the history of the index. The benchmark index fell 34% by late March of 2020 only to completely recover all that loss in less than 6 months. Previous drawdowns such as the dot-com bubble crash took more than 70 months to recover as shown in the chart below:

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Source: Morningstar via Bourbon Financial Management

Related ETF:

  • SPDR S&P 500 ETF (SPY)

Disclosure: No Positions