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Visualizing the Longest Bull Markets of the Modern Era

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Visualizing the Longest Bull Markets of the Modern Era

Visualizing the Longest Bull Markets of the Modern Era

The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

During the longest bull market in modern history, the S&P 500 surged a whopping 418% over the 9.5 years between November 1990 and March 2000.

This was during the famous economic expansion that took place during the Clinton era, in which job growth was robust, oil prices fell, stocks soared, and making money was as easy as throwing it in the stock market.

In mere months, this famed bull market may lose its title as the “longest” in the modern era.

That’s because, according to data and analysis from LDL Research, the current bull market will take over the claim to fame in late August 2018.

Ranking the Bulls

In today’s chart, we show every bull market since WWII, including the top six which are covered in more detail:

RankBull MarketDatesMonthsS&P 500 ReturnAnnualized Return
1Great Expansion'90-'00114418%19.0%
2Post-Crisis Bull Run'09-'18*112*302%16.7%
3Post-War Boom'49-'5686267%20.0%
4That '70s Growth'74-'8074126%14.1%
5Reagan Era'82-'8760229%26.7%
6The Hot Aughts'02-'0760101%15.0%

*Still in progress.

By looking at duration, total rate of return, and annualized rate of return, it really gives a sense of how these bull markets compare.

The current run, which will soon become the longest, didn’t have the same level of intensity as other high-ranking bull markets. Critics would say that it was artificially propped up by ultra-low rates, QE, and other government actions that will make the market ultimately less robust heading forward.

Regardless, the current run ranks in fourth place among the markets above in terms of annualized return.

What Ended Each Bull?

The market psychology behind bull and bear markets can be fascinating.

Below we look at the events credited with “ending” each bull market – though of course, it is actually the actions of investors (buying or selling) that ultimately dictates market direction.

1. The Great Expansion
The bull run lasted 9.5 years, ultimately capitulating when the Dotcom Bubble burst. From the span of June 1999 and May 2000, the Fed raised interest rates six times to try and get a “soft landing”. Market uncertainty was worsened by the 9/11 attacks that occurred the year after.

2. The Post-Crisis Bull Run
Still ongoing…

3. The Post-War Boom
This boom occurred after WWII, and it ended in 1956. Some of the sources we looked at credited the launch of Sputnik, Eisenhower’s heart attack, and the Hungarian Revolution as possible sources of market fear.

4. That ’70s Growth
The Iranian Revolution, the 1979 Energy Crisis, and the return of double-digit inflation were the factors blamed for the end of this bull.

5. Reagan Era
This bull market had the highest annualized return at 26.7%, but the party came to an end on Black Monday in 1987 – one of the most infamous market crashes ever. Some of the causes cited for the crash: program trading, overvaluation, illiquidity and market psychology.

6. The Hot Aughts
Stocks did decently well during the era of cheap credit and rising housing prices. However, the Financial Crisis put an end to this growth, and would cut the DJIA from 14,000 points to below 6,600 points.

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Markets

What History Reveals About Interest Rate Cuts

How have previous cycles of interest rate cuts in the U.S. impacted the economy and financial markets?

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Line chart showing the depth and duration of previous cycles of interest rate cuts.

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The following content is sponsored by New York Life Investments

What History Reveals About Interest Rate Cuts

The Federal Reserve has overseen seven cycles of interest rate cuts, averaging 26 months and 6.35 percentage points (ppts) each.

We’ve partnered with New York Life Investments to examine the impact of interest rate cut cycles on the economy and on the performance of financial assets in the U.S. to help keep investors informed. 

A Brief History of Interest Rate Cuts

Interest rates are a powerful tool that the central bank can use to spur economic activity. 

Typically, when the economy experiences a slowdown or a recession, the Federal Reserve will respond by cutting interest rates. As a result, each of the previous seven rate cut cycles—shown in the table below—occurred during or around U.S. recessions, according to data from the Federal Reserve. 

Interest Rate Cut CycleMagnitude (ppts)
July 2019–April 2020-2.4
July 2007–December 2008-5.1
November 2000–July 2003-5.5
May 1989–December 1992-6.9
August 1984–October 1986-5.8
July 1981–February 1983-10.5
July 1974–January 1977-8.3
Average-6.4

Source: Federal Reserve 07/03/2024

Understanding past economic and financial impacts of interest rate cuts can help investors prepare for future monetary policy changes.

The Economic Response: Inflation

During past cycles, data from the Federal Reserve, shows that, on average, the inflation rate continued to decline throughout (-3.4 percentage points), largely due to the lagged effects of a slower economy that normally precedes interest rate declines. 

CycleStart to end change (ppts)End to one year later (ppts)
July 2019–April 2020-1.5+3.8
July 2007–December 2008-2.3+2.6
November 2000–July 2003-1.3+0.9
May 1989–December 1992-2.5-0.2
August 1984–October 1986-2.8+3.1
July 1981–February 1983-7.3+1.1
July 1974–January 1977-6.3+1.6
Average-3.4+1.9

Source: Federal Reserve 07/03/2024. Based on the effective federal funds rate. Calculations are based on the previous four rate cut cycles (2019-2020, 2007-2008, 2000-2003, 1989-1992, 1984-1986, 1981-1983, 1974-1977).

However, inflation played catch-up and rose by +1.9 percentage points one year after the final rate cut. With lower interest rates, consumers were incentivized to spend more and save less, which led to an uptick in the price of goods and services in six of the past seven cycles. 

The Economic Response: Real Consumer Spending Growth

Real consumer spending growth, as measured by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, typically reacted to rate cuts more quickly. 

On average, consumption growth rose slightly during the rate cut periods (+0.3 percentage points) and that increase accelerated one year later (+1.7 percentage points). 

CycleStart to end (ppts)End to one year later (ppts)
July 2019–April 2020-9.6+15.3
July 2007–December 2008-4.6+3.1
November 2000–July 2003+0.8-2.5
May 1989–December 1992+3.0-1.3
August 1984–October 1986+1.6-2.7
July 1981–February 1983+7.2-0.7
July 1974–January 1977+3.9+0.9
Average+0.3+1.7

Source: BEA 07/03/2024. Quarterly data. Consumer spending growth is based on the percent change from the preceding quarter in real personal consumption expenditures, seasonally adjusted at annual rates. Percent changes at annual rates were then used to calculate the change in growth over rate cut cycles. Data from the last full quarter before the date in question was used for calculations. Calculations are based on the previous four rate cut cycles (2019-2020, 2007-2008, 2000-2003, 1989-1992, 1984-1986, 1981-1983, 1974-1977).

The COVID-19 pandemic and the Global Financial Crisis were outliers. Spending continued to fall during the rate cut cycles but picked up one year later.

The Investment Response: Stocks, Bonds, and Real Estate

Historically, the trend in financial asset performance differed between stocks, bonds, and real estate both during and after interest rate declines.

Stocks and real estate posted negative returns during the cutting phases, with stocks taking the bigger hit. Conversely, bonds, a traditional safe haven, gained ground. 

AssetDuring (%)1 Quarter After (%)2 Quarters After (%)4 Quarters After (%)
Stocks-6.0+18.2+19.4+23.9
Bonds+6.3+15.3+15.1+10.9
Real Estate-4.8+25.5+15.6+25.5

Source: Yahoo Finance, Federal Reserve, NAREIT 09/04/2024. The S&P 500 total return index was used to track performance of stocks. The ICE Corporate Bonds total return index was used to track the performance of bonds. The NAREIT All Equity REITs total return index was used to track the performance of real estate. Calculations are based on the previous four rate cut cycles (2019-2020, 2007-2008, 2000-2003, 1989-1992). It is not possible to invest directly in an index. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Index definitions can be found at the end of this piece.

However, in the quarters preceding the last rate cut, all three assets increased in value. One year later, real estate had the highest average performance, followed closely by stocks, with bonds coming in third.

What’s Next for Interest Rates

In March 2024, the Federal Reserve released its Summary of Economic Projections outlining its expectation that U.S. interest rates will fall steadily in 2024 and beyond.

YearRange (%)Median (%)
Current5.25-5.505.375
20244.50-4.754.625
20253.75-4.03.875
20263.00-3.253.125
Longer run2.50-2.752.625

Source: Federal Reserve 20/03/2024

Though the timing of interest rate cuts is uncertain, being armed with the knowledge of their impact on the economy and financial markets can provide valuable insight to investors. 

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