NY Times details:
Historical stock charts seem to show that it took more than 25 years for the market to recover from the 1929 crash — a dismal statistic that has been brought to investors’ attention many times in the current downturn.
But a careful analysis of the record shows that the picture is more complex and, ultimately, far less daunting: An investor who invested a lump sum in the average stock at the market’s 1929 high would have been back to a break-even by late 1936 — less than four and a half years after the mid-1932 market low.
How can this be? Three factors have obscured this truth from investors: deflation, dividends and the distinction between the Dow Jones industrial average and the overall stock market.
Source: Irrational Exuberance