In the past year, we've written a lot about the similarity between the rally of early 1930 and the one we had through April of this year.
The early 1930 rally came after the market had fallen nearly 50% in the fall of 1929. The spring 1930 rally took the market up nearly 50% again, to a level that was only about 20% below the previous peak.
That rally, of course, was also the biggest sucker's rally in history. After the market peaked in April 1930, it crashed again, eventually ending up down 89% from the 1929 high and more than 80% from the 1930 high. The market did not reach the 1930 high again for another quarter of a century.
The rally that recently ended in April 2010 came after a crash that was actually slightly more severe than the 1929 crash (53% versus 48%). It took the market up nearly 80% from the low! The recent rally also lasted longer than the 1930 rally did--a year, as opposed to 6 months.
The 2009-2010 rally that ended in April, of course, may actually be the start of a great new bull market, one that will shake off the current "correction" and roar back to the market's old highs. On the other hand, it may yet also be another version of what happened in 1930 -- the start of another bear market that will take the market down for years (or even, gulp, to a new low).
Importantly, we won't know for sure what today's market is until we look at it with the genius of 20/20 hindsight. As Peter Schiff pointed out yesterday, even as late as 1931, they didn't know they were in a "Great Depression" yet. On the contrary, the promise from the White House was that "prosperity is just around the corner."
Don't believe it? Check out this excellent compilation of New York Times clippings from early 1930 put together by Dan Alpert of Westwood Capital. There is nary a hint that anyone had any idea about the disastrous decade that was to come.
Dan's complete compilation is contained in a broader research piece, which we've embedded at the end. The slides below contain excerpts from February-April, 1930.
Is the current pullback just a "correction" and a "buying opportunity"? Or, as in the spring of 1930, is it the start of the REAL market crash? You be the judge. Meanwhile, here's what things looked like in the spring of 1930...