Up, Up and Away

The bull market you didn't know you were in

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Unemployment is still high, and salaries are compressed, yet stocks are rising like nobody's business. Before the recent oil-related dip, the S&P 500 had doubled its low point during the financial crisis, back in March 2009--the fastest such doubling since records have been kept. This recent run represents the 12th longest bull market since the Great Crash of 1929.

The stellar stock performance of America's largest companies is due to global growth. While the U.S. and Europe plunged into recession postcrisis, much of the rest of the world surged ahead, and big U.S. companies do lots of their business in these developing markets. Technology-driven productivity has helped too. Companies are spending on software to do jobs more efficiently but not on much else, like labor.

Will this bull market last a while longer? The answer is probably yes, unless inflation starts to bite or emerging markets tank. If that happens, the bears may once again have their day.