Earning season is in high gear, so it is a good time to take a look at the earning performance of the S&P 500.
This chart from Standard & Poors, pointed out by Chart Of The Day, gives some perspective.
The graph compares the earnings performance of the current recession, shown in the solid red line, to that of the 2001 recession in the dashed gold line, and the earnings performance from 1936 through 2006, shown as the dashed blue line.
As today's chart illustrates, the current decline in earnings is several orders of magnitude greater than the average decline during a recession. The current decline is also more severe than what was the most severe earnings decline on record - the decline that began in 2001 (gold dashed line).