The markets certainly haven't always reflected it, but with low interest rates and inflation, the U.S. has been in the sweet spot for stocks for most of the past 20 years. "We are poised on top of a mountain," says Robert Arnott, head of Research Affiliates in Newport Beach, Calif.

But real rates are going down, assisted by Federal Reserve policy, and inflation is rising. According to Arnott's data, if those trends continue, stock prices could tumble anew.

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