2011 Year-End Investment Returns by Asset Class

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I’ve been waiting for some good graphics about the performance of various asset classes for 2011. Got any? I’d try and make one myself, but I’m exhausted from year-end festivities. Below is one from Scotty Barber of Reuters (click to enlarge):

I also saved as a PDF the performance data from all Vanguard mutual funds after the close of the last trading day of 2011 (download link). Selected funds:

Fund Ticker Asset Class 2011 Total Return
VFINX S&P 500 1.97%
VTSMX US Total Market 0.96%
VISVX US Small Cap Value -4.16%
VGSIX US Real Estate (REIT) 8.47%
VFWIX International Total Market -14.41%
VGTSX International Total Market -14.56%
VFSVX International Small Cap -20.28%
VEIEX Emerging Markets -19.18%
VFISX Short-Term Treasury 2.26%
VIPSX Inflation-Protected Bonds 13.24%
VBMFX Total Bond Market Index 7.56%

As a reminder that being this year’s best performing asset class is no guarantee of for future years, here’s the Periodic Table of Investment Returns from Callan that shows the relative performance of 8 major asset classes over the last 20 years (1991-2010, click to view PDF).

Any predictions for 2012? 🙂

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  1. I think bonds have peaked. I had half my Roth IRA in VIPSX and just recently exchanged it all for VWINX, going from about 55% to 35% bonds.

    Ultimately, I have a 50/50 shot with stocks, but I think there’s a greater than 50% chance that interest rates will go up and bonds will go down in 2012.

  2. Is it possible for you to tell what you put in taxable and non taxable?

  3. I guess I was focused on how poorly my larger balance in total international was doing, and somehow I managed not to not even notice my emerging markets has gone down nearly 20% in 2011… Holy $&@!

  4. @JR – In general, I follow these rules:


    However, these days I would rather put REITs in tax-deferred and buy muni bonds instead that I can place in taxable accounts. This works for me since due to being in one of the top tax brackets.

  5. Jonathan,

    Do you actually buy individual munis or buy something like VCITX or VCAIX?
    How does interest rates affect the Vanguard ETFs because I read that rising interest rates would lower the value of the bonds held as ETFs or mutual funds but when you buy the individual munis you can hold on till maturity when you get paid.

  6. I own the limited and intermediate-term Vanguard bond funds. If I lived in CA, I would own a small % of the California Muni fund. Rising interest rates would affect the market price of any muni fund, you just don’t have to mark to market the bonds you own individually. I don’t wish to bother with individual funds, I like the diversification and relatively cheap active management from the funds.

  7. Maybe there’s something I’m not seeing. I’m no expert on this stuff, but where is the Vanguard Star Fund? VGSTX

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