It's taken almost 15 years, but the S&P 500 has finally exceeded its August 2000 high in inflation-adjusted terms (though just barely). Here's how I see the long term trends for this index, in nominal and real terms:
The nominal index is now 37% above its 2000 high, and over the past 65 years it has risen at an annualized rate of about 7.7% per year. The trend lines I've drawn represent annualized growth of just over 6%.
In inflation-adjusted terms, over the past 65 years the S&P 500 has risen at an annualized rate of about 3.9%. The trend lines represent 3% annualized growth. The CPI has risen at an annualized rate of 3.6% over the past 65 years.
Technicians can argue all day about what this means. In my view, I don't see anything unusual going on. Stocks can be very volatile over shorter time horizons, but over time they do pretty well.