This is a graph that shows the distribution of returns from 1825 to 2008 for the US stock market. Note that different indices were used (and index data collection methodologies) depending on the time period. It’s not 100% perfect, but is pretty close for the purposes intended: to show just how much of an outlier 2008 was. This was originally posted towards the end of November 2008 (hence the red block indicating YTD 2008). Click the picture to enlarge.
Source: Value Square Asset Management, Yale University as found on Ritholz.com/blog