So, we’re finally here. It’s been 16 years since the last great stock bull market.

1999 was characterised by a euphoric boom in shares. The end of the second millennium was, more than just symbolically, a farewell to a past full of war, anger and disappointment. We were welcoming the future. But perhaps, with hindsight, it was too naive a future.

Investing in shares has been tough

The ‘clever’ ones haven’t touched stocks since the turn of the century. Anything else was better. Think property, bonds, even building society savings accounts that yield next-to-nothing. The idea was – whatever you do, don’t go anywhere near equities.

Why? Because this was the bear market, and for anyone other than perhaps Neil Woodford and Warren Buffett, bear markets destroy value. The hot stock that you’re sure will make a mint gets caught up in scandal and comes crashing down. The worthy, reliable blue chip you’ve bet the house on is suddenly swamped by competition and its profits crumble. In bear markets, there’s nowhere to hide. At times, it can be brutal.

Now in 2016 when we look to the future we’re a little more cautious and a little more chastened. We’ve had 9/11. We’ve had the Tech Crunch and the Credit Crunch. We’ve had the Eurozone crisis and the collapse of Greece.

Hope seems to have had a battering and we spend much of our time looking over our shoulders, fearful of what will come next.

It will start to get easier

But let me tell you this… there’s never been more hope in the world.

Falling commodity prices and rocketing global production mean that high quality goods and services have never been more plentiful. Rampant inflation is now consigned to the past in many markets  and could soon be forgotten.

A surge in emerging markets could ultimately lift not just millions, but billions, out of poverty. 

And the growing middle classes in countries such as Mexico and Indonesia are key too. They seem to be embarking on a consumer boom that could to my mind benefit businesses such as Reckitt BenckiserDiageoGlaxoSmithKline and ARM

Stock markets around the world, perhaps with the exception of the US, have been in the doldrums. I would expect them to trend upwards now. China and India will lead the charge, as investors realise that these are the new engines of growth in the global economy. But the UK and Europe will be pulled along with them. So if you haven’t already, you should be buying into shares now, particularly emerging markets and funds such as JP Morgan Indian Investment Fund and Jupiter China.

A lot of people won’t dare to do this, frightened by the wealth destruction of the past decade and a half. If you’ve summoned up the courage to buy into shares, it’s been a long road to get here, but your luck might just be starting to turn.

It's not often that you find a fast-growing share that's both consistent, and has momentum. Yet our experts at the Fool have unearthed exactly that.

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Prabhat Sakya has no position in any shares mentioned. The Motley Fool UK has recommended ARM Holdings and GlaxoSmithKline. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.