This Week in Trading History: Spanish Flu, Bernie Madoff & the Haines Bottom. Photo: Wikimedia Commons (Pandemic Influenza: The Inside Story. Nicholls H)

This Week in Trading History: Spanish Flu, Bernie Madoff & the Haines Bottom

This week in Trading History seems evocative of the volatility we are currently facing in today’s markets; lots of exchanges hit rock bottom and others record peaks, while an infamous pyramid scheme, flu pandemic and bold market call make the history books...

8th March

For the first time ever, Daytona beach in Florida wasn’t just for partying spring breakers, but the first race was organised specifically for stock car racing participants. This is now considered the forerunner to what became the legendary Daytona 500.

Nineteen million dollars’ worth of jewellery was found in a Parisian suburb drain on this day. The jewellery had been stolen from a Harry Winston boutique in 2008 in an armed robbery. Imagine that find on your trip to the sewers.

9th March

Work on the 800-mile-long Trans-Alaska oil pipeline began on this day in '75. The pipe connects Northern Alaska to Valdez in the South and transports up to two million barrels of oil per day. Construction took two years to complete, and this movie - featuring staples of the 80s genre including synth soundtrack, bold American narrator, building montage and an unnecessary exclamation mark - provides an upbeat overview of the whole project. Enjoy.

10th March

The Exchange Traded Fund NASDAQ 100 tracking stock was introduced by NASDAQ. This is more commonly known as “the Q’s” or “Qubes”. The QQQ now include holdings such as Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook and has more than $63 billion in assets.

Another NASDAQ-related story as today in 2000 saw it peak before a two-and-a-half-year continuous decline. On March 10th, 2000 the NASDAQ closed at 5,048.62 (reaching as high as 5,132.52 during the day) meaning it was up 24% since the new year. After bottoming at 1,114 in October 2002 (a decline of 78%) today sees the NASDAQ at a monumental increase of 9,018.09.

Japans Nikkei Index closed at 7,054.98, an 81% decline from its record high of 38,916 in December 1989. Even to this day the Nikkei 225 Index has not been able to recover from this, currently set at 21,329.12.

On the very same day, the late Mark Haines predicted of the financial crisis, “I think we’re at a bottom, I really do”, now famously referred to as the “Haines Bottom”. It went down as one of the best market calls in history. Here's the clip in all its glory.

11th March

Kansas reported its first cases of the Spanish influenza. The epidemic killed more than half a million Americans, 50 to 100 million lives worldwide, and all in only one year. In comparison, the COVID-19 epidemic has killed more than 3000 people and infected more than 80,000 since first identified in December 2019. The Spanish influenza was the worst deadly influenza pandemic the world has ever seen. Fingers crossed for modern medicine that it’ll stay that way.

Happy Birthday to the man who makes into Forbes ‘Most Powerful People’ list every year, Rupert Murdoch. This Aussie, famous for creating News Corp, seems to have had his fingers in every multi-billion-dollar pie out there. Some big slices have included Fox, National Geographic, The Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones. He turns 89 today.

12th March

Coca-Cola sold its first bottle in Vicksburg Mississippi. The company is now worth around $232.32 billion, and it’s said that 1.7 billion servings of Coke products are consumed every day. Unpopular opinion: I’m more of a Pepsi kind of girl.

On this day 61-year-old Mahatma Gandhi began a 200-mile march to the salt beds of Jalalpur as a peaceful protest against British tax on salt. This began the fight for Indian independence, which didn’t happen until the 15th August 1947.

Franklin D. Roosevelt makes his first of many ‘Fireside Chats’, pleading for co-operation from the nation and thanking them for keeping their money in the banks. If you tuned into last week’s edition of This Week in Trading History, you’ll know that only a few days prior to this had FDR ordered all banks to close for a “Bank Holiday” in attempt to stop more banks from foreclosure. The next day the banks would reopen, and the nation would begin its two-decade long struggle after the Great Depression.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 500 for the first time. Today the Dow Jones is marketed at 26,256.39.

On this day, Bernie Madoff pleaded guilty to running a Ponzi scheme that robbed thousands of investors of their life savings, estimated to be around $65 billion. Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison. It was in fact his sons that initially handed him over to the authorities after Bernie had admitted to them in confidence that it was “one big lie”.

On the 5th of February 2020, Madoff’s lawyer filed for compassionate release due his suffering of chronic kidney failure and being told he had 18 months left to live.

13th March

On this day the Microsoft Corporation became public at $21 per share. Now every $100 invested at its IPO would be worth more than $166,000. Microsoft is now valued at over a trillion dollars.

14th March

Stock market fundamentals were degrading and, for the second day in a row, stocks fell sharply. This decline began the foreshadowing of the panic of October 1907.

Tip offs were posted in a local newspaper advising where to buy the cheapest silver. Taxco, Mexico seemed to be the place to be if you were in market of buying silver as Mexico City’s prices were on the rise. Today the price of an ounce of silver is around $17.23.

15th March

Today saw the reopening of the New York Stock Exchange after being closed for nearly two weeks. The Dow Jones rose to 15.35% on the first day, still the largest one-day percentage gain in stock market history.

As well as the reopening of the New York Stock exchange, today saw the reopening of the Libyan stock exchange for the first time since the fall of the Gaddafi regime. The Libyan stock market now lists 12 companies.