But even that period pales in comparison to what happened during the fourth quarter of 2008. I am so fascinated by this period, that I've memorized the statistics. Of the 64 trading days during the quarter, the S&P 500 closed plus or minus 1% 50 days, or 78% of the time. Remarkably, there were 16 days that the index had daily moves of 5% or more. Between Nov. 19 and Nov. 24, there were four consecutive days that the index moved at least 6%.
To fully put the fourth quarter of 2008 into perspective, consider that between 1950 and 2007, a 57 year period, the S&P 500 experienced a total of 19 occurrences of daily moves in excess of 5%; we experienced 16 during a single quarter.
But the unprecedented volatility did not end there. During the first half of 2009, the S&P 500 had another 72 days that it rose or fell at least 1%. If you include the fourth quarter of 2008, of the 188 trading days over three quarters, there were 122 days of plus or minus 1% moves, or nearly 2 of every 3 days.