Friday, October 19, 2007

I promise not to talk about the lessons from 1987

I'm sure you've had enough of that today. But there is a related point worth mentioning.

Why did the crash have so little impact outside of Wall Street (particularly compared to the 90's bubble)? A 34% drop from peak to bottom in the S&P 500 a matter of months certainly packs a punch. Surely the Fed's timely intervention helped. But by and large, it was simply a matter of the stock market being so much less relevant than today.

While in the previous five year period before the 1987 peak it had gained around 24% annually, slightly more than the comparable rise before the 2000 peak, it came from a much lower base. In 1986, stock market capitalization to GDP was merely 60%, compared to 110% in 1999, while direct equity holdings represented only 14% of household financial assets, versus 29% in 1999. Also, valuations in mid-1987 were, with a P/E of 20 times, much more reasonable than the 30+ times seen in early 2000.