A Brief Tour of the Biggest, Baddest, Most Depressing Day in American Capitalism

Money, money, money, mo-ney. Moaahhneey.

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Jul 8 2013, 4:10pm
Photo via Flickr / CC. 

Here's a long-shot planetary alignment to grind through your high-frequency algorithms, you svelte quant, you: In the annals of Great American Money Shots, today, July 8, is arguably the day of days. In some bizarre twist of (mis)fortune, it single-handedly represents the hopes, dreams, "transparent" "checks", crushing realities, and downright systemic greed that are all hallmarks of making--or at the very least thinking about and reporting on--what it means to make serious bank in the States.  

From the top:  

1839 - JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IS BORN

The founder of Standard Oil comes kicking and screaming into the world, and goes on to become not only America's richest citizen but also its first billionaire. Some would even say, after adjusting for inflation, that he's the wealthiest human to ever live. What'd you ever do?

JDR spent the last four decades of his life a retired man--rough life!--setting the bar for modern philanthropy along the way.  

1889 - THE WALL STREET JOURNAL IS BORN

Hot of the presses, the first ever issue of The Wall Street Journal hits the streets. Founded by none other than Charles Dow and Edward Jones, both reporters, along with fellow journalist Charles Bergstresser, the Journal begins forging the free-market stance for which it's still known. The rag of Wall Street goes on to earn the Pulitzer Prize more than 30 times, perhaps most notably for its uncovering of the Enron shitstain in 2000. 

1932 - THE GREAT DEPRESSION'S GREATEST DEPRESSION 

As if shit wasn't already dark enough for millions of mere mortals by this time, the Dow Jones Industrial Average would reach its nadir of the Great Depression, closing at 41.22. 

2004 - THE FINAL NAIL IN ENRON'S COFFIN

Hey, speaking of Enron. Kenneth Lay, the founder and one-time former chairman of the then-collapsed energy and commodities company, pleads his innocence to a litany of charges related to his little company's malfeasance, the blatant covering up on billions of dollars worth of bunk assets for which Lay would ultimatey be convicted. Too bad he croaked as the case sat in appeal. 

By this time, of course, global stock markets had gone of the way of high-frequency trading. And so it still goes for untold millions upon millions of everday folks just trying to get by: You can't always get what you quant. 

@thebanderson

More on money, capitalism, and trading:

Brief Encounters With a Wall Street Arms Dealer

Happy Birthday, Stock Ticker: You Made Buying and Selling Inhuman