Learn what happened in business in today’s past


September 24:

1998: Beanie Babies and dotcom stocks hit the big time as eBay Inc. goes public on NASDAQ, selling 3,489,275 shares at an initial offering price of $18 a share. The stock closes the day at $47 3/8, and the Internet IPO gold rush is in full swing, as dozens of companies realize that if eBay can go public, anybody can.

http://pages.ebay.com/community/aboutebay/releases/pr98.html#8; The Wall Street Journal, September 25, 1998, p. C1.

1974: John C. Bogle incorporates the Vanguard Group of Investment Cos. to administer -- and to be owned by -- the Vanguard family of mutual funds. For the first time, large numbers of investors will be able to have their money professionally managed without having to pay exorbitant fees to the fund managers.

John C. Bogle, e-mail to Jason Zweig, November 21, 2000; Robert Slater, John Bogle and the Vanguard Experiment (Irwin Professional Publishing, Chicago, 1997), p. 85.

1917: The second Liberty Loan Act authorizes the U.S. Treasury to issue more debt to pay for World War I. In a stroke of genius, the Treasury creates 25-cent savings stamps that citizens can buy at post offices and banks, then affix to a thrift card. After filling a card with 16 stamps ($4 worth), citizens can trade it for a "war savings stamp," a miniature zero-coupon bond that pays $5 at maturity on January 1, 1923. At 25 cents a pop, the program raises $1.6 billion, funding nearly 5% of the U.S.' total war expenditures--and it encourages Wall Street to create "sales forces" of retail brokers who encourage regular American families to buy securities for the first time.

Richard H. Hoenig, "Selling Uncle Sam," Friends of Financial History, no. 45 (Spring, 1992), p. 11; Sidney Homer and Richard Sylla, A History of Interest Rates (Rutgers Univ. Press, New Brunswick, NJ, 1991 ed.), p. 345.

1869: Wall Street's first "Black Friday." After word leaks that speculator Jay Gould, who was trying to "corner" the gold market, had sold out two days earlier, gold-and stock-prices plummet. The market is in such chaos that, reports one witness, "bids running from 135 to 160 were made at one and the same time in different parts of the room."

Henry Clews, Twenty -Eight Years in Wall Street (Irving Publishing, New York, 1888), p. 510; Charles P. Kindleberger, Manias, Panics, and Crashes (Basic Books, New York, 1989 ed.), p. 37; http://www.harpweek.com/09Cartoon/BrowseByDateCartoon.asp?Year=2001&Month=October&Date=16