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If you bought stocks - as represented by the S&P 500 - in the last 11 years, they're now worth less than what you paid

Staff Report • Feb 24, 2009 at 12:00 AM

The stock market replayed its November meltdown on Monday, dropping below last year's lows to a level not seen since April 1997.But according to BusinessWeek though stocks are now back at levels not seen since 1997, February's orderly slide feels very different from the sharp declines seen last fall. And that's what's worrying investors: November's crisis sometimes felt like irrational panic, driven by fears of a financial meltdown. February's sell-off, by contrast, seems driven by reality.On Feb. 23, the broad Standard & Poor's 500-stock index closed at at almost exactly half the value of the stock market at the beginning of 2008. It's not just a recent bubble that has burst. If you bought into the overall stock market—represented by the S&P 500—at any point in the last 11 years, your shares are now worth less than you paid for them.

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