Yesterday was the date that Franklin Delano Roosevelt said would forever “live in infamy,” thanks to the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor.
The U.S. government wasted no time in retaliating. Less than 24 hours after receiving the news in Washington, Congress declared war on Japan. And thus began World War II — the bloodiest and most costly war in history.
Investors reacted negatively. The Dow fell 3.5 percent on Dec. 7, from 116.6 to 112.48. It fell three more points the next day. In fact, the stock market lost more than 20 percent from Pearl Harbor to the eve of the first U.S. victory in the Pacific, at Midway.
Twelve years after the crash of 1929, the Dow was still barely one-fourth of its 1929 peak. But consider: Those numbers are about one-one hundredth of where the Dow is today.