A look back at 85 years of financial ups and downs

THE TICKER

September 14, 1995|By JULIUS WESTHEIMER

Because The Evening Sun stops publication after tomorrow's issue, let's look back at some financial news this paper printed over the last 85 years.

When we first published on Tuesday, April 18, 1910, our financial pages showed that the Dow Jones industrial average stood at 91.67. Roughly speaking, if you had invested $1,000 in the Dow stocks at that time, your investment would be worth approximately $51,000 today.

(Speaking of the Dow Jones average, when The Evening Sun made its debut, the Dow industrials were: American Sugar, Peoples Gas, General Electric, National Lead, U.S. Leather pfd., American Steel & Wire, Amalgamated Copper, American Smelting & Refining, U.S. Steel, U.S. Steel pfd., American Car & Foundry and Colorado Fuel & Iron. General Electric is the only survivor.)

Our presses printed many major financial events. From my Evening Sun collection, a yellowed front page of the "Late Home Financial Edition" dated Saturday, Feb. 25, 1933 (2 cents), shows an 8-column, 1-inch high (72-point) bold-face headline:

LANE WORKS ON BILL TO AID BANKS;

HUTZLER URGES BUSINESS AS USUAL

The story read: "Attorney General William P. Lane and his staff today began the preparation of emergency legislation designed

to safeguard bank deposits so that the legal holiday and bank closure proclaimed by Gov. Albert C. Ritchie may be ended and the banks resume business on Wednesday."

(Albert Hutzler was president of the Baltimore Association of Commerce and president of Hutzler Bros. department store, Howard and Saratoga streets.)

And a front-page, two-column editorial was titled, "For Your Protection," and said, in part, "The sole object of the three-day bank holiday which Governor Ritchie decreed last night is for protection of depositors.

The holiday does not mean that you will lose your money. That money is still there. As soon as banking law changes are made, banks will reopen and business will go on as usual."

In the same Evening Sun issue, my father's brokerage firm ran this ad on page 13. "Announcement: In order to be of assistance in the present situation, we have arranged to have currency available at our offices to make immediate advances against securities listed on the New York Stock Exchange."

Westheimer & Company

Members of the New York Stock Exchange

209-211-213 E. Redwood St., Baltimore, Md.

Also on Page 1 of that date, this one-column headline caught my eye:

ROOSEVELT PLANNING

TO BALANCE BUDGET

(Ticker Note: 62 years later, they're still trying.)

On Feb. 25, 1933, the day the above "bank holiday" story and editorial appeared, the Dow Jones average stood at 50.92, on the way back from its Depression low of 41.22 on July 8, 1932. The Dow didn't climb back to its 1929 pre-crash high of 381.17 until Nov. 23, 1954, a sickeningly slow crawl of 22 years.

(To put the Maryland bank-holiday story in perspective, it should be noted that on March 5, 1933, the day after his inauguration, President Roosevelt ordered a four-day federal bank holiday.)

Our presses printed many other financial events: The stock market crash of 1929 and the Depression that followed; the 50 percent plunge of the Dow in the 1937 recession; World War II price controls (1942); Dow Jones topping 200 for the first time (1946) with a comment, "Stocks are now too high"; U.S. seizes steel mills (1952) and the sharp stock market drop -- and quick recovery -- after President Kennedy's assassination in 1963.

Also, Dow Jones first closing above 1,000 (1972), over 2,000 (1987), 3,000 (1991) and 4,000 (1995).

Also we published news of the wage-price freeze of 1971; plunge of the "one-decision" growth stocks in 1974, accompanied by many popular stock averages skidding more than 60 percent; the wild inflation and interest rate surge of the early 1980s (prime rate 21 percent).

More: The "worst recession in 40 years" in 1982; the unbridled speculation and greed of the mid-1980s "go-go" years; savings and loan crisis and collapse of Old Court Savings & Loan in the late 1980s; the Oct. 19, 1987, devastating Wall Street 508-point crash; the astonishing stock market rally of this year, and so on.

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