There is a bestseller out there called Dow 36,000 by James Glassman, a journalist, and Kevin Hassett, a former Federal Reserve economist. They believe that the index will reach that number by 2018. Why? Because the authors say that blue-chips especially will rise rapidly as soon as investors understand that stocks return a lot more than, say, bonds and in the long run are really no more risky than bonds. (Oh, did I mention that the book was first published in 1999?)

Of course, this relies on data about the stock market that goes back a few hundred years. Their theory points out that valuation levels--price/earnings ratios--will remain high even throughout this bear market and that investors will realize the true value of stocks for the long haul.

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