Dow 10K and the Lost Decade

By Sadie Bass

Oct 14, 2009 1:55pm

ABC's Dan Arnall reports from New York: It happened today at 1:21pm ET. The numbers on the big board bloomed up to the five-digit range for at least a few minutes. Dow 10,000. Wow. It is, as many of you know, the second time that’s happened. The first time was more than a decade ago. March 1999 to be exact. Back then the economic world looked rosy. The nation was in the midst of its most impressive post-war expansion, spurred along by the revolution of the dot-com bubble. Back then, people thought we might all be millionaires someday thanks to the boom. But the planet has spun more than 3,800 times since that momentous inaugural 10K day and things have changed quite a bit. We’re now living in an economic world that is most certainly less optimistic than the one that greeted Dow 10K v.1.0. The young workers who founded and fueled the Internet revolution a decade ago are now grizzled veterans of the Great Recession. They’ve likely lost their jobs, or have spent the past year worrying about it. They’ve seen their parents’ retirement savings evaporate and many of them return to the workforce under duress. And the American home – once a symbol of ever expanding wealth – has now become a psychological burden that has pushed the American consumer out of the buying mood. While the media loves a Big Round Number and the folks at the New York Stock Exchange have even printed up Dow 10K v.2.0 baseball caps, take today’s “milestone” with a grain of salt. It could be that come October 2019, we’re right back here again, eyeing five digits and wondering how we’ll ever get out of this mess. Personally, I hope we’re celebrating Dow 15K a decade on thanks to 10 years of predictable 5% annual returns on the market. Slow and steady.

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