Learn what happened in business in today’s past


February 22:

1980: The U.S. Department of Labor announces that the Consumer Price Index rose 1.4% in January alone, equating to an annualized inflation rate of 18% -- the highest rise in prices since the 1973 oil crisis. Like a deer frozen in the headlights, the market stands stock-still; the Dow Jones Industrial Average closes at 868.77, up 0.15 points for the day.

Joseph Nocera, A Piece of the Action: How the Middle Class Joined the Money Class (Simon & Schuster, New York, 1994), p. 184; http://averages.dowjones.com

1973: The New York Stock Exchange kicks off its first-ever nationwide TV advertising campaign to encourage Americans to buy stocks. Naturally, this turns out to be the worst imaginable moment to egg on the investing public, as U.S. stocks go on to lose 14.7% of their value in 1973 and another 26.5% in 1974.

Today in NYSE History, at www.nyse.com/about/TodayInNYSE.html; Stock, Bonds, Bills, and Inflation 1996 Yearbook (Ibbotson Associates, Chicago, 1996), p. 39.

1720: In one of the earliest known instances of insider trading, John Laws Mississippi Company repurchases 100,000 shares of its stock from King Louis XV for 9,000 livres per share. Then Law announces to the French public that his finance company will no longer support the price of its stock with periodic buybacks, and over the next week Mississippi Company shares plummet from 9.545 livres to 7,825 livres, an 18% loss -- on their way to zero, as one of the earliest speculative bubbles begins to burst.

Antoin E. Murphy, John Law: Economic Theorist and Policy-Maker (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1997), pp. 226-228.