Today in Stock Market History – May 4th – National Cordage Bankruptcy and the Panic of 1893


This Day in History


1893 – National Cordage Company declares bankruptcy after a failed attempt to corner the hemp market.  At the time, National Cordage was the most traded stock and the selloff of shares quickly spread across the market. National Cordage was assumed to be a healthy, prosperous company, so it’s failure was a surprise to Wall Street. The stock opened at 39 but fell to 20 and the general market dropped in panic as well. General Electric fell from 88.5 to 79.5 (a decline of about 10%), Union Pacific railway fell equally, from 34 3/8 to 31 7/8. The fear would spread into the next day, May 5th 1893 which would become the worst day in stock market history, and remain so until 1929. Sources:  New York Tribune May 5, 1893 page 1, The Evening Star May 5 1893 page 1 and Panic, Prosperity and Progress

The Panic of 1893 would turn into one of the worst economic depressions in the nations history. 14,000 business would close and unemployment would rise to 20%. The depression would last 4 years before the country began to recover.

Best May 4th in Dow Jones Industrial Average History

1906 – Up 3.04% or 1.93 points.

Worst May 4th in Dow Jones Industrial Average History

1970 – Down 2.60%, or 19.07 points.


Image of the Day


The panic of 1893 would lead to massive strikes, marches on the capital, mass unemployment and stock market declines. The panic would produce what would become the worst economic depression in history, and remain so until 1929.



Today in Stock Market History – April 20th –

Quote of the Day


“I can calculate the motions of the heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.” – Iasac Newton


This Day in History


1720 – Iasac Newton sells his shares in South Sea Company for a profit of 100%, or about 7,000 pounds. However he couldn’t resist the urge to make more when soon after he would buy back into the South Sea Company Stock and eventually lose 20,000 pounds, leading Newton to state: “I can calculate the motions of the heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.” – Source: Manias, Panics and Crashes

1933 –  U.S. stocks continue their rally after the U.S. officially abandons the gold standard the day before. After a rise of 9% on the 19th, April 20th the Dow rises another 5.8% – Source: It Was A Very Good Year

Best April 20th in Dow Jones Industrial Average History

1933 – Up 5.80%, or 5.66 points


Worst April 20th in Dow Jones Industrial Average History

2009 – Down 3.56% or 289.6 points

Today in Stock Market History – April 9th – The Start of the World War 1 Boom

This Day in History

1915 – Bethlehem Steel vaults from $88 to $117 per share, part of a 10 day rise that would see its share price rise 70 points. The World War 1 boom is underway. (Source: It Was A Very Good Year)


Best April 9th in Dow Jones Industrial Average History

1938 – Up 5.25%, +5.75 points


Worst April 9th in Dow Jones Industrial Average History

1943 – Down 3.17%, -4.30 points


Best April 9th in S&P 500 History

2009 – Up 3.81%


Worst April 9th in S&P 500 History

1987 – Down 1.48%


Today in Stock Market History – April 8th – The Market Peaks Prior to World War 2

This Day in History


April 8th, 1940 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes at 151.29, which would come to represent the market’s peak prior to World War 2. The Dow Jones Industiral Average would hit a WW2 low of 92.92 on April 28th 1942. The Dow would not close above 151.29 until December 29th 1944. (Source: The Market’s Measure)


Best April 8th in Dow Jones Industrial Average History

1938 – Up 3.93%, +4.14 points


Worst April 8th in Dow Jones Industrial Average History

1932 – Down 4.98%, -3.30 points


Best April 8th in S&P 500 History

1986 – Up 2.14%


Worst April 8th in S&P 500 History

1996 – Down 1.77%


Today in Stock Market History – March 13th – Microsoft IPO, Panic of 1907

Quote of the Day

“By the end of the first day of trading, some 2.5 million shares had changed hands, and the price of Microsoft’s stock stood at $27.75. The opportunity to take a quick profit was too great for many institutional investors to resist. Over the next few weeks they sold off roughly half their shares.” – Fortune on the Microsoft IPO

After making a quick 40%, almost half of the original shares purchased at the IPO were sold. Over the next 30 years Microsoft stock would rise another 75,000%!


This Day in History


1907 – The Panic of 1907 is still a few months away, but cracks are appearing in the confidence investors have in American companies. Stocks break lower, led by the once coveted railroads. The Dow Railroad index falls from 112.53 to 107.52. (Source: It was a very good year)

1986 – Microsoft Corp (Ticker: MSFT) goes public with an initial offering price of $21 per share ($0.07 today adjusted for splits and dividends). Every $100 invested at its IPO is worth a little more than $75,000.


Best March 13th in Dow Jones Industrial Average History

2003 – Up 3.57% or 269.68 points


Worst March 13th in Dow Jones Industrial Average History

1907 – Down 3.94% or 2.48 points


Best March 13th in S&P 500 History

2003 – Up 3.45%, 27.71 points


Worst March 13th in S&P 500 History

2007 – Down 2.04%


Picture of the Day




Bill Gates was on the cover of Fortune Magazine after the successful IPO of Microsoft. The original article published July 21st 1986 can be found here.

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Today in Stock Market History – March 6th

This Day in History

March 6th, 1933 – The banking crisis that has plagued various states now effects the whole nation. At 1am, Monday March 6th, Franklin Denanor Roosevelt closes every bank in the nation in a shutdown that was planned to last 4 days, along with banning the export of gold and all foreign exchange transactions.  The next couple weeks would become many of FDR’s defining moments preventing the nation’s banking system collapse in the great depression. Banks nationwide would remain closed until at least March 13th. (Source: It was a Very Good Year)


Best March 6th in S&P 500 History:

 1998 – Up 1.99%


Worst March 6th in S&P 500 History:

1980 – Down 2.23%


Best March 6th in Dow Jones Industrials History:

 1902 – Up 1.83% or 0.87 points.


Worst March 6th in Dow Jones Industrials History:

1931 – Down 2.69% or 4.96 points.




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Today in Stock Market History – March 4th

This Day in History – March 4th


March 4th, 1957 – The S&P 500 index is introduced. Although Standard and Poors introduced its first stock index in 1923, today marks the anniversary of the S&P 500 index as we know it today. It closed the day at 44.06.


Best March 4th in S&P 500 History:

 2009 – Up 2.38%


Worst March 4th in S&P 500 History:

 2003 – Down 1.54%


Best March 4th in Dow Jones Industrials History:

1926 – Up 4.38 %, or 6.32 points


Worst March 4th in Dow Jones Industrials History:

 1897 – Down 1.88% or .57 points




Chart of the Day

The S&P 500 since its creation in 1957:



Since March 4th 1957 the S&P 500 has returned 4424%, not counting dividends.

Or,  a compounded annual growth rate of 6.67%, not counting dividends. [continue reading…]

Begin To Invest Daily – February 18th – Birthday of Charles Schwab, Great Depression Volatility

Quote of the Day

”I’ve thought the whole thing over, and if we are going bust, we will go bust big.”

– Charles M. Schwab of Bethlehem Steel on his plan to build a new steel mill to produce steel beams in the shape on an “H”. The design would later turn into the “I” Beam.

Hence, the company’s logo:Bethlehem_Steel_logo


This Day in Stock Market History


Charles_SchwabFebruary 18th 1862 – Birthday of Charles M. Schwab (2/18/1862 – 9/18/1939)
American entrepreneur who started his career with Carnegie’s steelworks and who later pioneered Bethlehem Steel. ( He is unrelated to the Charles W Schwab of the brokerage today.)

The company would become a major name on Wall Street as WW1 and WW2 produced massive steel orders. One such run up is featured in the book “It Was a Very Good Year” in which the price of Bethlehem steel shot up over 70 points in 10 days, and rising from 88 to 117 on April 9th.


With his leadership Bethlehem steel would become the second largest steel company in the world, and his idea of the “H” Beam would revolutionize the building of skyscrapers.

He would amass a wealth of nearly a billion dollars (adjusted for inflation), before dying in debt in 1939. He was an avid gambler, was known for his extravagant parties and extra-marital affairs.

A great, short biography of Schwab is available here.




Best February 18th in S&P 500 History:

2003 – Up 1.95% or 16.28 points

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Begin To Invest Daily – Feb 17th in Stock Market History

Quote of the Day

Once in the dear dead days beyond recall, an out-of-town visitor was being shown the wonders of the New York Financial District. When the party arrived at the battery, one of his guides indicated some handsome ships riding at anchor. He said,

“Look, those are the bankers’ and brokers’ yachts.”


“Where are the customer’s yachts?” asked the naive visitor.

-Opening to Where are the Customers’ Yachts by Fred Schwed



This Day in History

1977 – Blue Chip Stamps, with Charlie Munger as chairman and Warren Buffett as principal shareholder purchases the Buffalo Evening Newspaper – Entering Buffett into the newspaper business.

Buffett and Munger paid $35.5 million for the paper, which was their biggest purchase ever at that time. The history of Buffett and the Buffalo Evening Newspaper is an interesting one – it takes up a whole chapter in Alice Schroeder’s biography on Buffett: The Snowball

Initially, the paper was the most read local paper in Buffalo, but after a court case and managerial trouble, the newspaper began to quickly lose money, $1.4 million by November 1977. But things would slowly turn around and by 1983 the paper was making more than $19 million a year.


2000 – Total trading volume for the day on NASDAQ tops 2 billion shares for the first time, as 2,008,438,100 shares change hands and the NASDAQ Composite Index closes above 4500 for the first time, finishing the day at 4548.92.


Best February 17th in S&P 500 History:

1987 – up 2.07%


Worst February 17th in S&P 500 History:

2009 – down 4.56%


Best  February 17th in Dow Jones Industrials History:

1987 – up 2.48%, or 54.14 points


Worst February 17th in Dow Jones Industrials History:

 1932 – down 4.09%, or 3.51 points




Picture of the Day [continue reading…]

Begin To Invest Daily – February 14th – Romantic Investors, 1933 Michigan Bank Holiday

Quote of the Day:

Buffett on Romance:


This Day in History:


Best February 14th in S&P 500 History:
  • Year 2003 – S&P 500 up 17.52 points, or 2.14%
Worst February 14th in S&P 500 History:
  • Year 1980, S&P 500 down 1.45%


1933 –
At 1:32 AM on a Tuesday morning, Governor William Comstock of Michigan declares a 8 day banking holiday as Michigan banks struggle to remain open. In the midst of the great depression banks nationwide were stressed, but Michigan was hit particularly hard by the great depression. After failed negotiations with Henry Ford for help, the governor was forced to declare a banking holiday to prevent defaults. However the banks would not open in just 8 days. Banks in many other states were not in any better condition than those in Michigan. By early March, 36 states had banking operations suspended.

Then on March 6th, just 36 hours after being sworn into office, President Roosevelt declared a week long national bank holiday. Over the next week panic would subdue and with the help of legislation from congress, the worst of the bank runs would be over.


Image of the Day [continue reading…]

February 11th – This Day in Stock Market History – IPO @ $11

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Quote of the Day

“If owning stocks is a long-term project for you, following their changes constantly is a very, very bad idea. Its the worst possible thing you can do, because people are so sensitive to short-term losses. If you count your money every day, you’ll be miserable.”

—-Daniel Kahneman, Princeton professor of psychology, in Jason Zweig, Do You Sabotage Yourself? Money Magazine, May, 2001, p. 78. Also author of Thinking Fast and Slow


February 11th – This Day in History

February 11th, 2000 – IPO at $11 per share. It would reach as high as $14 per share before its collapse: chart become symbolic of the mania involved with the dot-com boom of the late 90s and early 2000.

What was there possibly to like about Not much. In its first 11 months, lost an equivalent of $42.42 per share:


By November 6th 2000 gone – just 268 days after its IPO. [continue reading…]

February 3rd – Begin To Invest Daily – End of Tulipmania

Quote of the Day

“Men, it has been said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one” – Charles Mackay author of “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds



This Day in History

1637 Holland – The tulip market suddenly crashes. Within a day there are no buyers for tulips at any price, after just reaching prices as high as 6,000 Guilders for a single bulb. (At the time, the average annual wage is between 200-400 Guilders and a typical small town house sold for about 300 Guilders.) By May of 1638 contracts were annulled for 3.5 cents on the dollar, a drop of 96.5%. (Source: Devil take the Hindmost)



Chart of the Day

What would be today’s value of that 6,000 Guilder investment in 1637, if it was instead put in an investment yielding just 5%?

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January 31st Daily – Begin To Invest – Putting Buy and Hold to the Test

Quote of the Day



For the truly long-term investor, the results of a prolonged bear or bull market may very well prove of little consequence or may even produce surprisingly paradoxical results…. If you’re a twenty-something just beginning to save, then get down on your knees and pray for a market crash.

–William J. Bernstein, The Intelligent Asset Allocator [continue reading…]

Begin to Invest – January 30th Daily – The History of the Cash Register, Compounding Interest and more

Quote of the Day – Charlie Munger on the “surfing business model”
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