I must admit to being a sucker for a multi-century chart, and the one below from Ron Griess of The Chart Store is no different:


Recessions and SPX, 1870-2010

click for larger graph

Category: Economy, Markets

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

13 Responses to “Historical Recessions vs S&P, 1870-2010”

  1. ashpelham2 says:

    Chart is fascinating for dating the recessions, but the Y scale just leaves me very confused!

  2. Johnny99 says:

    The Y axis is done on a logarithmic scale. Wikipedia, as usual, knows all:


  3. dmlopr says:

    Would be nice to see it relative to gold.

  4. BennyProfane says:

    Nice argument for Glass Steagall and the FDIC, huh?

  5. Gatsby says:

    I don’t think he has a leg to stand on but charts like this make me understand Pretcher’s view a little better.

    ???? to 1929 a massive bear market
    1930 to ???? a massive bull market

    Anyways back in the real world dmlopr poses a very interesting question.

  6. nemo says:

    Still looks like the S&P should be at 900, if not below.

  7. daf48 says:

    You’ll need to get some education in complex theories, before you understand. We’re not dealing with a linear world. We’re dealing with a complex system that is not predictable! So quit it!

  8. ACS says:

    “Notice how the left side of the chart is populated with many more recessions and longer ones as well.” Notice how the right side of the chart is demominated in a currency that has lost 98% of its value since the recessions got fewer and shorter.

  9. seneca says:

    The economy was putrid more often than not from 1870 to 1932 during the heyday of the Austrian school of economics, low taxes, the gold standard and the absence of a social safety net. The S&P500 index was lower in 1932 than in 1870! Don’t tell Ron Paul’s followers. Let them find out the hard way.

  10. aypay says:

    I would like to know how they marked recessions. Knowing how our current definition and NBER defined start and stop are done (i.e. complete nonsense), I suspect that the pre-NBER recessions marked on this chart aren’t exactly the same animal. My guess is that the grey areas in the older parts of this chart are very skewed to New England+NY based manufacturing and Wall Street and not as real. If we marked them the same before and after I think the chart would look either way more blank or way more grey, but much more consistent.

  11. Ron says:


    Nothing magical……….the NBER gives you all the cycles, from June 1857 onwards.

    Go here:

    They even tell you how they do it:

    Tell your reader the Internet is a great tool and learning how to use a search engine is not that difficult. Everyone expects an easy answer nowadays, I guess. My generation was taught to seek answers ourselves, not rely on others.

    Just an “old” timer,


  12. xynz says:

    @BennyProfane @seneca

    Evidence, shmevidence.

    Just because the empirical evidence clearly refutes the Right Wing’s economic policies, doesn’t mean they’re going to adopt reality based economic policies.

    You’re talking about a political movement that not only welcomes evolution and global-warming deniers with open arms, they’re nominated to run for the House and Senate! Chances are, their 2012 Presidential nominee will also be an evolution denier.

    Where will this anti-science movement take the Right Wing?

    How about back to the good old daze of GEOCENTRISM!!

    Texas State Representative Warren Chisum and Georgia State Representative Ben Bridges are great examples of the Ring Wing’s anti-science movement. They both believe that the Earth is the center of the Universe and that Galileo was wrong:


    They’ve taken the country so far backwards, that the “Static-Earthers” are ready to have their first conference next month:


  13. Kralizec says:

    (1) We cannot chart the multi-millennial history of post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacies.
    (2) Success seems often to lead to complacency, complacency to decay and surprise, decay and surprise to ruin.
    (3) Whatever else can be said about the difference between 19th- and 20th-Century American history, it seems safe to say that the Americans suffered civil war in the 19th Century, and they did not suffer it in the 20th.
    (4) Superpower status may have economic value. Superpower status is a matter of degree.
    (5) Political modes may be inaugurated in one century and have their best or worst effects in another.
    (6) Baby booms and baby busts seem likely to have their best economic effects from thirty years after they begin until thirty years after they end.
    (7) For much of the 20th century, the Americans’ enemies and competitors sucked; in the 19th and 21st centuries, perhaps not so much.