NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- A recent debate between Wharton Professor Jeremy Siegel and Pimco founder Bill Gross has called into question the "historic" outperformance of stocks compared to every other asset class, and the ability of stocks to keep outperforming in the next decade.
Gross is the leader of one of the largest families of asset funds at Pimco. In a nutshell the so-called "Bond King" wrote in his
letter to investors his belief that equities' current return can't be sustained and will be substantially diminished in future.
Siegel, who wrote one of the biggest bestsellers in finance, "Stocks for the Long Haul,"
a day later on
, restating his belief that, despite some down years, stocks remain good long-term investments.
That these big hitters are duking it out is important for every investor because it signals that even the brightest economic minds are not sure about the future returns of stocks.
If they're not sure, what are we supposed to do as investors?
Both agree on the return portion of dividends as a total of stock returns, which historically has totaled slightly less than half of total return.
That percentage can't be ignored, particularly in a market environment like this one where GDP numbers are collapsing all around the globe and the growth prospect of companies and their stocks are all the more in doubt.
The one statistic that has undeniably buoyed stocks in the past two years above all others has been the dividend yield of the
, even now at 1.94%. Nearly 2% isn't the greatest yield the S&P 500 has seen; in fact, it is one of the smallest historically .
But what has put so much upwards pressure on stocks has been the relative return of other assets, particularly bonds. The yield on the S&P 500 is still outpacing the yield on 10-year Treasuries by more than 40 basis points.
With the continuing downwards pressure on Treasury yields exerted by the Federal Reserve, we should continue to see relatively strong stock prices.