At the request of The Wall Street Journal, over the last month we conducted a series of polls asking our readers to forecast the returns for the next 10 years for a series of asset classes. The results are below.

Here are some of the notable findings:

  • Cash is expected to have a negative real return. The average forecast for cash was 1.96%, but inflation was forecast to be 2.72%, resulting in a real return of -0.76%. The inflation forecast (2.72%) is higher than during the post-crisis period, when inflation has been less than 2%; but it is less than the longer-term average of approximately 3%.
  • 10-year Treasury bonds were forecast to have a real return of only 1.13% (3.95% less 2.72% inflation). The 3.95% forecast is roughly 100 basis points greater than the 10-year yield was at the time the poll was taken.
  • The highest expected return was for emerging-market stocks (7.46% before inflation), followed by private-equity funds (6.50% before inflation).
  • The lowest expected return (other than cash) was for bitcoin (3.12% before inflation). Approximately two-thirds of advisors forecast a return of less than 2% for bitcoin. This average forecast, however, likely overstates the expected return for bitcoin. The lowest forecast advisors could select was less than 2%, but we suspect that many advisors would have forecast a significantly negative return for bitcoin if we had included that choice.
  • Nominal returns for U.S. stocks are expected to be well below their historical averages. Large-cap stocks were forecast to return 4.98% versus their historical average of approximately 9.5%. Small-cap stocks were forecast to return 5.82% versus their historical average of approximately 12.2%.
  • Gold was forecast to return 4.89% before inflation. Over the very long term, gold’s return has roughly equaled the inflation rate, so this is an optimistic forecast for gold.

We asked advisors to forecast nominal (before inflation), annualized, dollar-based returns. To calculate the weighted averages, we had to make assumptions in some cases. For the responses in a range (e.g., 3% to 4%) we chose the mid-point of that range (i.e., 3.5%). For the “< 2%” responses, we assumed 0%. For the “> 12%” responses, we assumed 14%.