1973-1974 Redux
Principles of the Stock Market

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Have You Seen This?

Have You Seen This?

 The Principle of History.  Knowing one’s history gives us guidelines and a basis to work from.  So yesterday I began to compare the last Papa Bear market we lived through, 1973-1974, which encompassed the first really oil crisis, to today’s ongoing bear market and oil shock.  I said I was printing research off the (wonderful!) Internet & get back to you.  Well, I’m baaack.



Studying the 1972 through 1974 period in more depth yesterday, please let me note that:


  • There were three separate legs down in the two-year Papa Bear bear market of 1973-1974:
  • The first leg down was sharp and came in January 1973.  From a peak on January 11th, 1973, the Dow fell -10% over the next 30 trading days.  Then kept sawtoothing lower until late August when it completed a seven-month loss of over -18%.  This first leg down can be compared to what the Dow has recently gone through, since its peak on October 9th last year.  From Dow 14,164.50 to the Dow low of 11,740.20 the Dow lost -17.12%.  Schwartz View:  So about comparable in time, seven months versus five months, and extent, -19% to -17% to the first leg down in the Papa Bear market of 1973-1974. 
  • The stock market in 1973 then rallied +15% from its lows over the following two months.  That brought us back to within about -6% of its old January 1973 high and peak.  Schwartz View:  This time around the Dow has rallied +11% from the March 10th lows to the May 2nd highs, so for just under two months.  And has brought the Dow within -7.8% of its old highs.  So a weaker, shorter rally, which may be bad, IF it’s indeed over.
  • Going forward from that bear market ally high in August 1973, the two-month rally where some investors “were likely lulled into believing that a new leg up was occurring” the market began its second leg down, which brings us up to date and to today.
  • Looking back again to what happened in 1973, and projecting forward to what unfolds today, the 1973 second leg down began in August and ran until December and the Dow dropped an additional and even more severe -20%.  The leadership of that era, the “Nifty Fifty,” resolved its previous divergence, holding up while the smaller cap stocks got hurt during the first leg down, and caught up on the downside as shown by the -20% Dow drop.  This drop took roughly three to four months. Schwartz View:  Thus I have to project a second and more severe leg down starting now or soon.  Probably including the remaining leading energy and commodity sector taking a hit.


  • Other similarities and/or dissimilarities from the oil shock and crisis back in 1973-1974 to today’s oil shock which I unearthed in my research yesterday are:

1.        Rising inflation was a big issue in both periods.

2.        The Vietnam War ended during that past bear market, something similar to what I expect to happen during this bear, us getting out of Iraq.

3.        The US dollar was under pressure back then even in the early stages of the bear market, in February 1973, it was devalued by 10%.  It’s losing value again, now.

4.        Oil jumped from $3 a barrel to $5.11 a barrel, beginning with the October 1973 OPEC oil embargo, a quick jump of 70%.  We all know oil has soared the last couple of years as well.

5.        We had massive layoffs of 142,000 in the auto industry in 1974; yesterday American Airlines announced “large layoffs” ahead.

6.        We had Franklin National Bank be declared insolvent  in 1974; this year Bear Stearns effectively was declared insolvent by the Fed.  Other banks, investment and money center remain under great pressure.

7.        BARRON’s Roundtable was unanimously bullish starting off 1973; same thing from Barron’s Roundtable kicking off last year.

8.        The US economy from 1972 to 1974 dropped from a growth rate of +7.2% to -2.1%.  And the UK economy dropped from +5.1% to -1.1%.  This time around both the US and UK economies are also dropping quickly.

9.        Stocks priced in gold were priced very low back then.  Same low valuation in terms of gold today with gold at 900$+.

10.     We had a new Fed chairman, Arthur Burns, arrive in 1970, who encouraged inflation.  We have a new Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke, who is also encouraging inflation today.


SCHWARTZ SUMMING UP.  No use looking out too far, looking at the third leg down in 1974 for instance, which came after another always-to-be-expected stock market rally and multi-month trading range.  Let’s hope this time around isn’t so bad although I must say things do look pretty bad to me.


Posted 05-22-2008 9:09 AM by Richard Schwartz
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