The Bull Market’s 10th Birthday

Here’s a fact you aren’t likely to hear Al Gore or George W. Bush point out in tonight’s debate: Today marks the 10th anniversary of the bull market. Happy birthday, bull! Ten years ago the Dow was at 2,365. Today, it’s fluctuating around 11,000. That’s nearly twice as high as it was four years ago when Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan denounced the stock market’s “irrational exuberance.”

Al Gore isn’t likely to mention the birth date of the bull market because it falls inconveniently during the presidential term of his present opponent’s father. George W. Bush isn’t likely to mention it because it’s a reminder that the country prospered through the Clinton administration.

So it falls to Chatterbox to celebrate the bull market, which, according to yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, is the second-longest and third-biggest in U.S. history. (The longest was the 12-year stretch from June 1949 to December 1961. The biggest were the 496.5 percent run-up between August 1921 and September 1929 and the 354.8 percent run-up during the aforementioned longest bull market of the 1950s. The run-up of the current bull market so far is 348 percent.) On the day the run-up began, Chatterbox was unmarried, with no children. He owned no fax machine, no cell phone, no Palm Pilot. He was a renter. He wrote on XyWrite and published his articles on newsprint because Tim Berners-Lee hadn’t yet popularized the World Wide Web. There was still a Soviet Union. Richard Nixon was still advising U.S. presidents. George Wallace had vacated the governor’s office in Alabama only three years earlier. Gisele was only 10 years old. The United States was getting ready to go to war to lower the price of oil. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences thought Driving Miss Daisy was good enough to win Best Picture. Terry Anderson was still imprisoned. Jeffrey Dahmer was still at large.

Chatterbox doesn’t mean to suggest that all the quality-of-life improvements of the past decade can be attributed to a booming stock market. Like George W. Bush and Dinesh D’Souza, Chatterbox has often pointed out that there’s more to life than money. Still, Chatterbox hopes current speculation that a bear market will soon commence proves false. To paraphrase Woody Allen, prosperity without purpose may be an empty experience, but as empty experiences go, it’s one of the best.