Maps and charts

Change in the Dow Jones Industrial Average on the New York Stock Exchange, 1920-2018

Source: Louis Johnston and Samuel H. Williamson, “What Was the US GDP Then ?”,


The Dow Jones Index was created in the late 19th century and at that time mainly included rail companies. It presents a good illustration of how events can abruptly turn in global finance over the long term. The index indicates the value of the top thirty companies quoted on the New York Stock Exchange. The profile of the curve shows, on the one hand, an exponential increase around the 1980s-90s and after 2009 and, on the other, sudden collapses which indicate repeated crashes: in 1929, in 2000-2001 (the so-called dot-com bubble), and in 2008 (the subprime crisis) to cite the most hard-hitting. On each occasion, these speculative excesses have serious economic and social consequences for people.


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