The Twist and Turns of the Stock Market Over Time


  • Stock Market Crash of 1929 — it's interesting to note that while the 1929 crash was a major historical event, it was only a tiny blip in the index compared to the levels the Dow is trading at today... the Dow was in the 400 range compared to the 10,000+ range today.

  • Stock Market Crash of 1987 — in the late 1980s the Dow first broke the 2,000 mark. The crash of 1987 resulted in a steep fall in the index, but the recovery was rapid.

  • The 1990s boom — the dot com era in the 90s blew the Dow through the proverbial roof.... the Dow almost touched 12,000.

  • The 2000-2010 see-saw — The dot com crash saw a quick recovery with the Dow breaking the 12,000 mark. The 2008 crisis sent the Dow into a tail-spin. However, by 2010 the Dow showed tremendous resilience closing over the 11,000 mark.

"In summary, the key take-home message from this discussion on the Stock Market History Graph is that the stock market has shown tremendous growth in the last century.

"Interestingly, out of the 115 year history that we saw in the chart above, the biggest jump in the market, the most significant building of wealth, happened in the last thirty years."

Now, my question is, are YOU better off than you were 30 years ago? 

Are you better off than your parents? 

Are your children going to be better off than you? 

Where did the wealth go? 

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Replies to This Discussion

booklover, I'm glad your husband is a Teamster, and hope he is able to retain his benefits during the next contract. If he is, we all benefit ... you have income to support your lifestyle, because of your money management. If he and Teamsters have to give up too much, the entire country looses. We depend on those who produce goods and services to have enough money to maintain their standard of living.
If the union has to give up too much, I hope there are strikes, picket lines, sit-downs, any of those resistance things that sometimes become necessary. Making a living wage in capitalism as we know it requires struggle of workers.
I'm not a Marxist, and I am not a laissez-faire capitalist. Those who produce goods and services are entitled to share in profits.
We live in interesting time! 我们生活在有趣的时间!

Yes, it is scary. For a coupe of years after I left my husband I was terrified. I even had nightmares about being a bag lady. One night I dreamed I was a bag lady organizer and I have not been afraid since then. It was the helplessness that so overwhelmed me. I was a victim, thought like a victim and acted like one. When I realized there are things I can do to restore my confidence, I was all right. Sure my heart and diabetes limit me to do different things; I can't picket anymore or organize ... I just don't have the strength. But I can write, and persuade, and encourage, and inspire younger and healthier people do what I can't. I can do my part.

The worse thing we can do is feel helpless, hopeless and depressed. No one benefits by that. Find what we can do and do it with gusto. My kids are working hard to support their families and aren't able to spend time on a picket line, nor can they take time off from work to stand on principles. So, we "Elders" can make a difference.

Ultimately, it will be the young ones coming up, the ones who realize they can work really hard and still get nowhere, who will make the necessary changes. We can help them remember our history and the meaning of events, and they will come up with ways to get back what has been lost. I am really very optimistic about the future ... if we can get a handle on climate change. 
That is whole different problem ... and we can help clarify the issues. No more fables about "clean coal" or delusions about CO2.  We have our work cut out for us. 

Joan, the period covered by your Highlights above tells too little of the story.

I'm sampling (on my Kindle) the 2012 book, A Nation of Deadbeats: An Uncommon History of America's Financial Disasters. I heard its author, Scott Nelson, on CSPAN's Book TV.

I understood the author, an economic professor, as making a case that

1) the stock market and capitalism are their natures unstable,

2) on average every eight or so years since America's founding, taxpayers have bailed out the gambling-addicted folk who indulge their problem in the stock market, and

3) until the Roosevelt administration, it was a dog-eat-dog place and losers were expected to starve quietly.

Answering your questions:

1) Yes, but the stock market contributed nothing;

2) Yes, but the stock market contributed nothing;

3) No children, and the stock market contributed nothing; and

4) To the wealthy, thanks to their investments in politicians' elections.

BTW, how is this discussion related to atheism? Will you in time reveal a surprise connection?


Twasn't, Melinda.

1) An unmet expectation might result in sarcasm, a weak one's anger.

Hm-mm, an expectation of something on atheism. Not met. Hm-mm, don't mess with Joan; her knowledge has value.

2) "WTF is the connection?" would have been unkind.

On #1, I can essay a few pages.

Thank you, Melinda; I enjoy word play.

Melinda, thanks for your concern. I appreciate your kind statement. However, I am not a very nice person when I read nonsense. There have been some pretty awful criticism of my content and style in the past and I have an incredibly tough skin and a very powerful reaction when people discount or trivialize me. Comes from my life experiences, I guess. 

I have been concerned that I may be giving you too much hard evidence that we are in a terrible mess about warming, from which we may not be able to recover. The easy problems are financial, social, and political. The real thing that concerns me is Climate Change. I don't want to be an alarmist, and some have called me a "fear-monger" and that term says more about them than it does about me. Climate change is real and will effect everyone. If we deny its occurrence we will not be prepared. If we know the probability of what could happen, prepare for the worst, we can appreciate it if it doesn't happen. It is being unprepared that causes the greatest harm.  

Please inform me if I cause you stress. Life is and will be wonderful if we have the right attitude. Just imagine what people felt when the Ice Age hit and they had to learn new behaviors to survive. Or when the Europeans came onto the American Continent and natives had to adjust to guns, steel and germs. We exist in just as powerful a change as those poor humans faced. Some of us will fail, some will survive, some will thrive. I intend to be a thriver. Glad to have your company.

Remember: flexibility and adjustability!

Tom, I agree, capitalism is unstable by its very nature. When an individual or a family makes financial budgets, stability counts for a lot. Savings plans for education and retirement take heavy hits if invested in non liquid assets like real estate and one doesn't pay proper attention to trends in stocks and bonds. People plan and save their entire working life to have enough for retirement, and many see their plans wrecked by crashes. How does one plan for crashes? 

Your responses to my questions indicate to me that you are either wiser than some in not depending on investments of one kind or another or you are luckier than some. I hope it is wisdom, and if so, you are entitled to brag! Please share with us the reasons you were not impacted by the stock market when so many of us were. 

I have lived and experience the Great Depression of the 1930s, and I know the struggle of whole families having no one with an income, not because they were unwilling to work, but because there were no jobs. Many were farmers that had to subsidize their farming income or fell behind in bank loans when the price of wheat when down. To see the prosperity of the 1950-1970s reveals a lot of differences;  the 1930s "poor farm" that stunk like pig pens and people rendered penniless in old age compared with the opportunity to save and invest for a decent retirement during the Age of Prosperity.  What changed? well, a lot of things, but for one, wage earners were able to earn living wages. 

Did you notice the label for this string? Politics, Economics and Religion. Some people like to dissect life into parts. That is OK if one wants to delve deeply into aspect of life. I, however, am not a "dissector" I am a "connector". How can one separate these topics without realizing there are common properties or influences upon each. I post here because I want to discover what trends happen in each of these sectors and others read it to share ideas about these things, or because they have interests in connections. 

I enjoy your question and challenge. You are not the first to confront me with my divergence and I hope not the last. 

Joan, I'll reply briefly (You didn't ask for a family memoir and I don't want to write one.):

My dad entered the 1930s providing for two adults and three kids under four. If he had a crash protection plan, he spelled it with the letters: K, O, R and W. In a writers' group I once took from the Rubaiyat lines with the work "drink", substituted the word "work" and said the revised lines describe the family and culture I grew up in.

He told me he'd bought stock on margin and when "they" wanted more money he refused and lost what he'd paid in. He said darkly that he would not again buy stock. For most of his working years he owned a mom, pop and kids meat market. He said he went into the grocery business because people will always buy food. The GI Bill paid most of my way through college; in economics classes I learned how hard the 1930s had been for so many people.

College philosophy examinations require students to connect and dissect but they ask "Compare and contrast...."

In politics, economics and religion, unexamined assumptions abound and result in conflicts.

My father was born in a tent out in the country where my grandfather had a slaughter house, and raised in the meat market in a small farming town, until the crash in 1929.  I, too was born in a small town and grew up in a meat market ...  ... my grandfather lost his operation, and dad lost his. They both worked incredibly hard and so did everyone in the family. It was not because of being "deadbeats" but because of forces beyond their control. 

My grandfather was left without a home, business, vehicles and five kids not yet educated. No one in town could afford to pay for meat and so he supplied the town with meat thinking he could recover. Well, the depression went on too long, he was too old to do more than he was doing and the family gathered around a wood stove as he threw the charge slips into the fire. In essence, his earning life was over. Grandma and Granddad moved into a one room shack and wallpapered it with newspapers to keep the cold out. They grew their own food and lived out the rest of their life very meagerly. 

My father and all my uncles were out of work. Morris Knudsen Construction Company came through town recruiting young, strong men to build railroad bridges across the southern tier of the USA in anticipation of moving men and material back and forth across the country. It seems the government knew WW II was coming and prepared. We lived in migrant worker camps moving along with the construction.  It turned out to be a real gift for me because I was with Mexican nationals, Oakies, Arkies, blacks, Native Americans, with not enough money for food and shoes and we all played together as if we were cousins. It was the best childhood any child could have.

If one works really hard, budgets very carefully, one can get along pretty well. When a depression or inflation hits, or an illness, there is not enough money. Workers have to band together and make demands against the profits created by their labor. When it comes time for college for the kids, there isn't enough savings there, and people band together to get better assistance for education costs. when retirement time comes, there is not enough savings to stretch for that, and people band together to get a share of the profits made from their labor so they can save for retirement. 

If a person works hard and puts money into savings in the mattress the money does not work to earn money. So the wise person invests in "safe" investments so the money is earning money, trying to keep up with inflation.

If a person puts savings money into gold or silver or platinum, the value will keep up with inflation and has a high probability of creating a bubble which can burst ... so, keeping up with inflation is the best one can hope for. 

If one spends all the money from month to month, what does one do for retirement. Education for the kids is out of the question. 

So, what other options are there?

Thanks Melinda; I very much appreciate you and your contributions.




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