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Chart of the Day
It's no secret that it's bad out there. Today's chart helps provide some perspective as to the magnitude of the current economic decline. Today's chart illustrates that 12-month, as-reported S&P 500 earnings have declined over 80% over the past 18 months, making this by far the largest decline on record (the data goes back to 1936). In fact, real earnings have dropped to a level not seen since the 1930s and 40s the back end of the Great Depression. While earnings have been struggling since Q3 2007, it was the latest quarter (Q4 2008 the first full quarter following the financial meltdown), where the real damage was done. During Q4 2008, the S&P 500 came in with its first negative earnings quarter ever and the amount lost during the quarter was more than the index has ever earned during a single quarter.

Notes:
- Where's the market headed? The answer may surprise you. Find out right now with the exclusive & Barron's recommended charts of Chart of the Day Plus.

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Quote of the Day
"Confidence grows at the rate a coconut tree grows, It falls as the rate a coconut falls." - Montek Ahluwalia

Events of the Day
March 20, 2009 - First day of Spring (Northern Hemisphere)
March 21, 2009 - NCAA women's basketball championship
April 01, 2009 - April Fool's Day


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