Ken Fisher's Forbes Market Calls

To navigate the interactive timeline, use your cursor to move the yellow line across the chart. For each year, you will see Notable World Events and Ken's Market Scorecard, along with highlights from each of Ken's Forbes Columns published that year.

Year: 2009

Notable World Events

"In the broader world, 2009 was notable for many reasons. Barak Obama was inaugurated as President, Iceland collapsed, the global recession lingered. And the March bear market bottom marked the beginning of a massive, global stock market rally...As they tend to do, the bear market uncovered a number of fraudsters whose hoaxes weren't as easily hidden when stock prices were falling. The huge 2007-2009 bear market revealed one of the biggest frauds in history-Bernard "Bernie" Madoff."

- from Chapter 26, 25 YEARS AND COUNTING
The Making of a Market Guru: Forbes Presents 25 Years of Ken Fisher

 

Year: 2008

Notable World Events

"Stocks drifted lower during January and February as concerns about a credit crunch, real estate, subprime mortgages, and other issues mounted...troubles that seemed confined to relatively small financial firms mostly tied to mortgage origination began spreading to larger firms. Rising default rates, the impact of market-to-market accounting rules (derived from the recently implemented FAS 157), and tightening credit conditions for select firms brought the health of some of the biggest investment and commercial banks into question. The first US firm of meaningful size to run into trouble was Bear Stearns-then the fifth-largest independent investment bank in the US. In March, Bear Stearns was on the brink and was sold to JP Morgan Chase in a last-minute, late night deal negotiated by the Fed and Treasury...Like Bear Stearns, conditions were weighing on investment bank Lehman Brothers. But rather than negotiating a deal to marry Lehman with a healthy firm, Lehman went bankrupt-with no last minute deal making by the Fed or Treasury. Concerns other firms might suffer a similar fate, and confused why there was no last-minute intercession as there had been for Bear Stearns, investors truly panicked and began fleeing credit markets...and US insurance giant AIG was the next panic victim."

- from Chapter 25, THE UNBUBBLE
The Making of a Market Guru: Forbes Presents 25 Years of Ken Fisher

 

Year: 2007

Notable World Events

"Democrats controlled Congress but not by a wide enough margin to override a veto from the Republican White House. The resulting stalemate meant little risk of big legislation...Talk of a credit crunch was also widespread. Credit had tightened by some measures, but borrowing rates were actually lower for highly rated firms by yearend than they had been when the year started. Housing was another concern, but in 2007 national housing prices were only slightly off their 2006 peak with most of the price declines unsurprisingly concentrated in markets that had previously been hottest...In November 2007, a seemingly innocuous account rule was put in place that would end up having a much bigger impact than anticipated. Statements of Financial Accounting Standards No. 157 (aka FAS 157) required financial firms to utilize mark-to-market accounting to value their assets, or the value they could fetch in an immediate sales. Mark-to-market accounting works great in liquid markets like those for stocks or US Treasuries, but it becomes problematic when applied to the illiquid assets on banks balances sheets, as investors would unfortunately learn in 2008."

- from Chapter 24, ANOTHER BROKEN RECORD
The Making of a Market Guru: Forbes Presents 25 Years of Ken Fisher

 

Year: 2006

Notable World Events

"2006 was a difficult year...for celebrities. That was good news to Ken. It's not that Ken has any ill will toward the likes of Paul McCartney (divorced from Heather Mills in 2006), Whitney Houston (filed for divorce from Bobby Brown), Paris Hilton (arrested for DUI), Steve "Crocodile Hunter" Irwin (killed by a stingray), or Wesley Snipes (indicted on tax fraud charges). But the fact these were the stories making endless headlines in 2006 was a bullish sign for investors...In September, a coup in Thailand ousted then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. Just a month later, North Korea revealed it developed and tested a nuclear device. "

- from Chapter 23, CELBRITY MARKET INDICATORS
The Making of a Market Guru: Forbes Presents 25 Years of Ken Fisher

 

Year: 2005

Notable World Events

"Politics were in full swing in 2005. Not so much here in the US as abroad. We inaugurated President George W. Bush for his second term, but bigger change was happening overseas. In Japan, the world’s second largest economy after the US, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi dissolved the lower house of parliament after a measure to privatize Japan’s postal system (which serves as a post office, life insurer, and the world’s largest bank by assets) was voted down in Japan’s upper house. In the general election that followed, Koizumi's Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) won an overwhelming majority, gaining enough seats to override the upper house's vote. This referendum was seen by many as an important step in initiating much-needed pro-growth economic reforms in Japan (many of which have unfortunately not materialized). The LDP maintained its supermajority in the upper house until 2009. In Germany, then the third largest economy (China surpassed Germany in terms of economic size in 2009), Angela Merkel-also seen as a pro-economic growth reformer-unseated Gerhard Schröder to become the new Chancellor. Back in the US, Hurricane Katrina tore through the Gulf Coast region, devastating much of New Orleans."

- from Chapter 22, GIVING IT TIME
The Making of a Market Guru: Forbes Presents 25 Years of Ken Fisher

 

Year: 2004

Notable World Events

"In March in one of the deadliest terrorist attacks since September 11, 2001, explosives planted on commuter trains in Madrid, Spain killed 191. In December, a tsunami in Southeast Asia was far more destructive, resulting in approximately 230,000 casualties."

- from Chapter 21, IF
The Making of a Market Guru: Forbes Presents 25 Years of Ken Fisher

 

Year: 2003

Notable World Events

Iraq war, "2003 was also the third year of President Bush's first term-historically an overwhelmingly positive period in the presidential cycle for stocks as Ken has noted in a number of his columns over the decades. The reason stocks do well in third years is grounded in behavioral finance, a growing field Ken has helped pioneer."

- from Chapter 20, BUY ON THE CANNONS
The Making of a Market Guru: Forbes Presents 25 Years of Ken Fisher

 

Year: 2002

Notable World Events

"In 2002, telecommunications firm Worldcom followed in Enron's loathsome footsteps. Like Enron's demise, an accounting scandal was the root of Worldcom's downfall. Predictably, legislators' knee-jerk reaction to these and other scandals was to legislate, and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 was born. Sarbanes-Oxley has been highly criticized in the years since it was enacted because it foists substantial regulatory costs on US listed companies, especially smaller firms that can't spread the costs out over a larger revenue base. Despite widespread acknowledgement of Sarbanes-Oxley's flaws, it remains in place in 2010. The Fed continued to cut interest rates in 2002 in response to the slumping economy. When the stock market peaked in March 2000, the Fed Funds Target Rate was 6%. By 2002, Greenspan and his cohorts slashed it to 1.25%-an all-time low to that point. The Fed's discount rate, which unlike today was below the target rate in 2002, was down to 0.75%."

- from Chapter 19, TRIPLE BOTTOM BLUES
The Making of a Market Guru: Forbes Presents 25 Years of Ken Fisher

 

Year: 2001

Notable World Events

Junichiro Koizumi is elected Prime Minister of Japan, Silvio Berlusconi wins Italy's general elections, Timothy McVeigh is executed for the Oklahoma City bombing, tragedy strikes the World Trade Center in NYC and the Pentagon on 9/11, anthrax attacks scare, China is admitted to the WTO, and Enron files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy following its accounting scandal.

 

Year: 2000

Notable World Events

Alan Greenspan is appointed US Federal Reserve Chairman for the fourth time, torrential rains in Africa leads to severe floods in Mozambique killing 800 people, major stock indexes reach new highs, Vladimir Putin is elected President of Russia, Microsoft loses antitrust case, Summer Olympics are held in Sydney, Australia, and George W. Bush wins US presidential elections.

 

Year: 1999

Notable World Events

"Doomsayers feared rolling into the new millennium would throw computers out of whack, with all sorts of tragic implications. Ken first dismissed the notion Y2K could derail the stock market in 1997, but Y2K hysteria was again building in 1999...Loose money abroad was still flowing into the US, causing Ken to favor the biggest stocks here. Foreign investors simply favored the biggest, internationally active US firms. And the structure of the relatively newly-created European Economic and Monetary Union (EMU) ensured loose money would continue to flow. Each country in the EMU has its own fiscal policy, but there's one overarching monetary policy for all member countries, directed by the European Central Bank (ECB). There's no back out provision to the EMU structure. If one country wants to leave, the whole EMU could theoretically fall apart. So the ECB has an incentive to keep the economically weakest countries from jumping ship. That means keeping interest rates low when those economies are struggling. Low interest rates in Europe keeps money flowing to the US."

- from Chapter 16, IPOS, Y2K, NASDAQ, OH MY!
The Making of a Market Guru: Forbes Presents 25 Years of Ken Fisher

 

Year: 1998

Notable World Events

"If 1997 seemed eventful, 1998 was about to knock folks' socks off. The Asian Financial Crisis would spread west, contributing to a financial crisis in Russia that saw the government default on its debt and the ruble devalued-the famous "Russian Ruble Crisis". The ripples then made their way to the Americas, contributing to the failure of then-massive US hedge fund Long Term Capital Management (LTCM). With nearly $130 billion in assets (almost all of it borrowed) at the start of 1998, LTCM was thought to be so big its failure could reverberate through the global financial system. Latin America was struggling too, with a many developing countries there entering recession. All this against a backdrop of US political scandal. The Monica Lewinsky situation was rapidly unfolding in the media, eventually leading to President Clinton’s impeachment in December 1998."

- from Chapter 15, RUBLES, CORRECTIONS, AND MORE BULL
The Making of a Market Guru: Forbes Presents 25 Years of Ken Fisher

 

 

 

 

 

Year: 1997

Notable World Events

"In the UK, political change was afoot as the Labour Party wrested control from conservatives for the first time in 18 years. The UK also lost Princess Diana when she was tragically killed in an auto accident in Paris. In Asia, the Asian Financial Crisis was unfolding, shaking foreign markets. But US stocks were largely unscathed."

- from Chapter 14, RATIONAL EXUBERANCE
The Making of a Market Guru: Forbes Presents 25 Years of Ken Fisher

 

Year: 1996

Notable World Events

"1996 was a bittersweet year for many Forbes readers. Stocks had a great year. But 1996 was also the year of Steve Forbes first failed run for the presidency. Despite Forbes' strong showing in the Republican primaries, Senator Bob Dole won the Republican nomination, eventually losing the presidency to President Clinton, who won his second term. Republicans lost a few seats in the congressional elections but maintained control of both the house and senate. The result was more political gridlock-investors cheered...Ken recommended focusing on US shares in prior years, but was warming up to foreign investments. Central banks in Europe and Japan waited too long to ease monetary policy to stoke languishing foreign economies but had finally done so in a big way."

- from Chapter 13, THE NIFTY NINETIES
The Making of a Market Guru: Forbes Presents 25 Years of Ken Fisher

 

Year: 1995

Notable World Events

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is established to replace the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), Oklahoma City bombing killed 168 people, OJ Simpson stands trial and is eventually found not guilty, conflict escalates between Croatian and Serbian forces, and major stock market indexes hit all-time highs.

 

Year: 1994

Notable World Events

"One reason for Ken's 1994 bullishness was the shape of the yield curve. A yield curve is a graphical representation of yields on bonds with different maturities. Typically, yields on short-term bonds are lower than those on long-term bonds, meaning the yield curve is positively sloped. Banks tend to borrow money at short term interest rates and lend money at long term rates, so the steeper the yield curve, the more profitable it is for banks to make new loans. That makes money more readily available and is generally positive for the economy. In 1994, interest rates were rising (the US Federal Open Market Committee raised short term rates for the first time since 1989), but the yield curve remained quite steep."

- from Chapter 11, THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM
The Making of a Market Guru: Forbes Presents 25 Years of Ken Fisher

 

Year: 1993

Notable World Events

"Newly elected President Clinton took office in January, ushering in an era of "Clintonomics." Hallmarks of President Clinton’s new economic plan included higher corporate, income, and fuel taxes, and NAFTA-the North American Free Trade Agreement. All were enacted in 1993...The 1993 economy wasn't stagnant, but it wasn't much to write home about either."

- from Chapter 10, A TAXING YEAR
The Making of a Market Guru: Forbes Presents 25 Years of Ken Fisher

 

Year: 1992

Notable World Events

"The geopolitical winds of change were blowing hard in 1992. Just days before the start of the year, the Supreme Soviet formally dissolved the Soviet Union, ending the Cold War. A bit farther west, the European Union (EU) was founded with the signing of the Maastricht Treaty...Political winds were also blowing in the US. Bill Clinton defeated George H. W. Bush to become the first Democrat president since Jimmy Carter, which scared Republicans silly-and most investors too. Actual winds were blowing here too as Hurricane Andrew tore across Southern Florida and Louisiana causing dozens of deaths and tens of billions of dollars of damage..."

- from Chapter 9, TIMES THEY WERE A CHANGIN'
The Making of a Market Guru: Forbes Presents 25 Years of Ken Fisher

 

Year: 1991

Notable World Events

"Tensions in the Middle East had been escalating rapidly since Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990. In early January 1991, chances of a peaceful resolution were fading fast, adding to investor anxiety...Then on Saturday January 12, Congress authorized the use of military force in Iraq...The next week saw both the beginning of UN military action and the start of a 40-day, 19% S&P 500 rally...As is always the case in the early stages of new bull markets, there were many stock market doubters in early 1991. The war was just one concern. The US was also in the midst of a recession, the S&L crisis left hundreds of failed banks in its wake, and the US debt and budget deficit were troublesome to many-just to name a few."

- from Chapter 8, UNBELIEVABLE BULL
The Making of a Market Guru: Forbes Presents 25 Years of Ken Fisher

 

Year: 1990

Notable World Events

By yearend, formerly jolly investors, pummeled by the bear and worried about the looming onset of the Persian Gulf War, had soured. Ken took that as a positive sign the bear was ending...In 1990, Ken continued to call for an extended stretch of US outperformance...Ken saw foreign central banks tightening monetary policy significantly. In most cases, rising short-term interest rates had risen above long-term rates, inverting yield curves worldwide. But investors had become too enthralled with the notion foreign economies were somehow permanently superior to the US to notice. Ken disagreed. He saw restrictive monetary policies abroad weighing on foreign stocks and economies in the short term. Over the longer-term, Ken noted demographic shifts favored the US. And most importantly, Ken disagreed with the idea foreign business practices had lapped the US."

- from Chapter 7, A SNEAKY BEAR MARKET
The Making of a Market Guru: Forbes Presents 25 Years of Ken Fisher

 

Year: 1989

Notable World Events

"The world was busy in 1989. The Soviets fled Afghanistan after nine years of occupation. In Europe, the Berlin Wall came crashing down (figuratively and literally). In China, students clashed with tanks in Tiananmen Square. Americans viewed their first Seinfeld episode. Researchers at the University of Utah claimed to have achieved cold fusion, possibly solving the world's energy problems. (They didn't.) The 7.1 magnitude Loma Prieta earthquake rocked Northern California. And the US Savings & Loan crisis was hitting a crescendo, with hundreds of thrifts going under."

- from Chapter 6, THE END IS NIGH
The Making of a Market Guru: Forbes Presents 25 Years of Ken Fisher

 

Year: 1988

Notable World Events

"1988 offered a few distractions from the Black Monday hangover. One major part of the world was rapidly changing. In the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev was implementing dramatic social economic reforms known as 'perestroika'-a first step in the dismantling of the Soviet Union. In the US, George H. W. Bush bested Republican contenders, including Bob Dole and televangelist Pat Robertson, to win the presidential nomination and eventually the presidency over Democrat Michael Dukakis. Sports offered some memorable moments as well. Hobbled Dodger Kirk Gibson hit his dramatic bottom-of-the-ninth-inning homerun to win game one of the World Series. Still, all the distractions in the world weren't enough to make folks forget the stock market crash."

- from Chapter 5, EAR TO THE GROUND
The Making of a Market Guru: Forbes Presents 25 Years of Ken Fisher

 

Year: 1987

Notable World Events

Margaret Thatcher is elected Prime Minister for a third time, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 2,500 for the first time, on Black Monday world markets fall sharply, and the Israeli-Pakistan conflict escalates. "Interest rates were also on the rise. The 10-year US Treasuries yielded about 7% when 1987 began. In October, they peaked above 10%. And it wasn’t just the US. Interest rates were rising worldwide. Ken viewed these rising rates as a sign of scarce liquidity."

- from Chapter 4, "CRASH!"
The Making of a Market Guru: Forbes Presents 25 Years of Ken Fisher

 

Year: 1986

Notable World Events

"The year began tragically as the space shuttle Challenger, carrying schoolteacher Christa McAuliffe, exploded shortly after takeoff. Just a few months later, the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster rocked Eastern Europe and the world. In the US, as 1986 was winding down, the Iran-Contra Affair was making headlines-a scandal threatening to make it all the way to the Office of the President."

- from Chapter 3, "GLOBAL-DY GOOK"
The Making of a Market Guru: Forbes Presents 25 Years of Ken Fisher

 

Year: 1985

Notable World Events

"Almost a mirror image of 1984, 1985 was a humdrum year with stellar stock market returns. Sure, 1985 saw the Plaza Accord signed by the US, UK, France, West Germany, and Japan to stem the rise in the US dollar. Microsoft released Windows 1.0. And New Coke launched, then thudded. But global events were generally mundane..."

 

Year: 1984

Notable World Events

"1984 was quite a year. Fortunately, it didn't involve nearly as much government oppression or book burning as George Orwell’s 1984 foretold, but it was eventful nonetheless. Ronald Reagan trounced Walter Mondale to secure his second term as President, the Cold War was in full swing, the Olympics were in Los Angeles sans the Russians and many of their comrades, and Larry Bird’s Boston Celtics defeated Magic Johnson’s Los Angeles Lakers to win the NBA finals."

- from Chapter 1, "A NOT SO ORWELLIAN YEAR"
The Making of a Market Guru: Forbes Presents 25 Years of Ken Fisher

 

Content reprinted with permission from John Wiley & Sons.