The Investment Scientist

Stock Market Mayhem from 1950 to 2015

Posted on: December 16, 2015

  • market crashStocks Decline 14% (June 1950 to July 1950) North Korean troops attack along the South Korean border. The U.N. Security Council condemns North Korea. The U.S. gets involved.
  • Stocks Decline 20.7%, (July 1957 to October 1957) The Suez Canal crisis manifests itself, the Soviets launch Sputnik and the U.S. slips into recession.
  • Stocks Decline 26.4% (January 1962 to June 1962) Stocks plunge after a decade of solid economic growth and market boom, the first “bubble” environment since 1929.
  • Stocks Decline 22.2% (February 1966 to October 1966) The Vietnam War and Great Society social programs push government spending up 45% in five years. Inflation takes off.
  • Stocks Decline 36.1 % (November 1968 to May 1970) Inflation really starts to pick up, hitting 6.2% in 1969 up from an average of 1.6% over the previous eight years. Vietnam War escalates. Interest rates surge; 10-year Treasury rates rise from 4.7% to nearly 8%. 
  • Stocks Decline 48%  (April 1973 to October 1974) Inflation breaks double-digits for the first time in three decades. There is the start of a deep recession; unemployment hits 9%.
  • Stocks Decline 19.4% (September 1976 to March 1978) The economy stagnates. High inflation. Adjusted for inflation, corporate profits haven’t grown for eight years.
  • Stocks Decline 17.1% (February 1980 to March 1980) Interest rates approach 20%, the highest in modern history. The economy grinds to a halt; unemployment tops 10%.
  • Stocks Decline 27.1% (November 1980 to August 1982) Inflation has risen 42% in the previous three years. Consumer confidence plunges, unemployment surges, and we see the largest budget deficits since World War II. Corporate profits are 25% below where they were a decade prior.
  • Stocks Decline 33.5% (August 1987 to December 1987) The crash of 87 pushes stocks down 23%in one day. No notable news that day…historians still argue about the cause.
  • Stocks Decline 19.9% (July 1990 to October 1990) The Gulf War causes an oil price spike. Short recession. The unemployment rate jumps to 7.8%.
  • Stocks Decline 19.3% (July 1998 to August 1998) Russia defaults on its debt, emerging market currencies collapse, and the world’s largest hedge fund goes bankrupt.
  • Stocks Decline 49.1% (March 2000 to October 2002) The dot-corn bubble bursts and 9111 sends the world economy into recession.
  • Stocks Decline 14.7% (November 2002 to March 2003) The U.S. economy puts itself back together after its first recession in a decade. The military preps for the Iraq war. Oil prices spike. • Stocks Decline 56.8% (October 2007 to March 2009) The housing bubble bursts, sending the world’s largest banks to the brink of collapse. The worst crisis since the Great Depression.
  • Stocks Decline 16% (April 2010 to July 2010) Europe hits a debt crisis while the U.S. economy weakens. Double-dip recession fears.
  • Stocks Decline 19.4% (April 2011 to October 2011) The U.S. government experiences a debt-ceiling showdown, U.S. credit is downgraded, oil prices surge.
  • Stocks Decline 11.9% (June 2015 to August 2015) China’s economy grinds to a halt; the Fed prepares to raise interest rates.
  • During the period when all these mayhems happened, the S&P 500 index went from 16.6 to 2045, a 12,289% increase.

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Michael Zhuang is principal of MZ Capital, a fee-only independent advisory firm based in Washington, DC.


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