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This Bull Is Like the Tech Bubble, but Different

Traders at the New York Stock Exchange react as the Dow Jones Industrial average breaks 10,000 on March 16, 1999

Traders at the New York Stock Exchange react as the Dow Jones Industrial average breaks 10,000 on March 16, 1999 Photograph by Michael Paras/Bloomberg

No one on the street would confuse today’s bull market in stocks with the zeitgeist-driving one that ripped through the 1990s. Business magazines no longer resemble phone books. Hotel rooftops aren’t being annexed for balance sheet-burning launch parties. But there are increasingly parallels.

According to Bloomberg’s Whitney Kisling, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index has gained 26.2 percent annually, including dividends, since its March 2009 crisis low—just as it did during the last 50 months of the late 1990s technology bubble. U.S. corporate profits have gained 20 percent a year since 2009, twice their pace during the dot-com advance. The $784.5 billion earned by S&P 500 companies in the last 12 months compares with $431.3 billion in 2000 and $255.7 billion in 1996. And are you hearing about all these initial public offerings?