Biggest Earnings Drop Ever

Lest the recent rally set you too complacently in your profit-counting chair, consider the following reminder from the kind folks at Chart of the Day:

Today’s chart helps provide some perspective as to the magnitude of the current economic decline. Today’s chart illustrates that 12-month, as-reported S&P; 500 earnings have declined over 80% over the past 18 months, making this by far the largest decline on record (the data goes back to 1936). In fact, real earnings have dropped to a level not seen since the 1930s and 40s — the back end of the Great Depression. While earnings have been struggling since Q3 2007, it was the latest quarter (Q4 2008 the first full quarter following the financial meltdown), where the real damage was done. During Q4 2008, the S&P; 500 came in with its first negative earnings quarter ever and the amount lost during the quarter was more than the index has ever earned during a single quarter.

Here’s the chart:

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