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5 Financial Crises That Nearly Destroyed The U.S. Economy

Think the U.S. stock market is in turmoil now? Here are five legendary financial crises that will put it in some perspective.

1. The Great Depression, 1929-1939

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On October 29, 1929, the U.S. stock market suffered a blow it would take a decade to overcome when stockbrokers started passing that black-and-white photo of the sad woman with her kids around the Wall Street trading floor, bringing everyone to tears.

2. Eisenhower’s Bad Trade, 1958

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Nearing the end of his presidency, Dwight D. Eisenhower traded every train in America to Switzerland in exchange for a neon sign that said “Wine Is My Christ,” which he hung above his headboard in the Lincoln Bedroom. The blow that this complete lack of trains dealt to America’s transit infrastructure had massive economic ramifications that certain facets of the industrial sector are still recovering from today.

3. Doug Emmert Decides To Buy A Stock, 1971

When Doug Emmert of Oswego, IL decided to buy two shares of Macy’s stock on February 2, 1971, the previously balanced market was sent into a tailspin, plummeting the U.S. into a deep recession.

4. The Dot-Com Bubble Crash, 1999

The ’90s were heady days for speculation about the future of online technology, but it all came crashing down in 1999, when Bill Gates announced once and for all that when a computer communicates with another computer, it does not make them friends—they are simply exchanging information.

5. The $20 Bill Scare, 2002

In 2002, it was discovered that if you fold a $20 bill a certain way, you can make it look like the Twin Towers are burning in a similar fashion to the way they did on 9/11. Not knowing what they were in for, people kept trying it, and they would become so horrified that they would quickly tear up their money and throw it into the trash, resulting in a net loss of $1.2 billion.