The Best Performing Asset Against Inflation Over the Last 20 Years

Inflation is a consistent and sometimes unnerving presence in the financial landscape. It erodes the purchasing power of money over time, which means that investors are constantly on the lookout for assets that not only preserve capital but grow it. Over the past 20 years, different assets have performed differently in the face of inflation, and one of the standout performers has been equities, specifically the stock market.

Equities: A Robust Inflation Hedge

The stock market has consistently offered strong returns over the past two decades, making it one of the best-performing assets against inflation.

  1. Historical Performance: The S&P 500, an index of 500 of the largest companies listed on stock exchanges in the United States, has provided average annualized returns of around 7-8% after inflation over the last 20 years. This return has generally outpaced inflation, leading to real growth in investment value.
  2. Companies’ Ability to Adapt: Stocks represent ownership in companies, and companies often have the ability to adjust their prices in response to inflation. This means that their revenues and profits can grow with inflation, helping to protect investors from its erosive effects.

Other Noteworthy Assets

While equities have been a star performer, it’s worth mentioning other assets that have also provided protection against inflation.

  1. Real Estate: Historically, real estate has been seen as a good hedge against inflation. Property often appreciates in value at a rate that outpaces inflation. Rental income can also increase with inflation, providing a growing income stream.
  2. Commodities: Assets like gold have sometimes been favored as a hedge against inflation, although their performance can be more volatile. Commodities often rise in price when inflation is high, as they have intrinsic value.
  3. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS): These are U.S. government bonds specifically designed to protect against inflation. The principal of a TIPS increases with inflation, providing a direct hedge.


Investing is a complex field with many variables to consider, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer to protecting against inflation. However, over the past 20 years, equities, particularly those represented by major indices like the S&P 500, have proven to be a strong hedge against inflation.

While past performance is not indicative of future results, understanding how different assets have responded to inflation in the past can provide valuable insights for future investment decisions. Diversification and professional guidance may also be key components in building a portfolio that stands resilient in the face of inflation.