The Beginning and End of the 2 Great Crashes of the 21st Century: Mattel, Inc. (MAT), Hasbro, Inc. (HAS), Cisco Systems, Inc. (CSCO)

Barbie was America’s first mass-produced toy doll, and she caught on quickly with girls across the country. Barbie surpassed $1 billion in annual sales for Mattel, Inc. (NASDAQ:MAT) in 1993, and since her debut, more than 800 million dolls have been sold around the world. Barbie also inspires budding fashion designers before they move on to runway stardom, and these designers in turn have provided inspiration for some of the more than 1 billion fashion items that have been created for the Barbie brand since 1959.

Several years after Barbie’s debut, Hasbro, Inc. (NASDAQ:HAS) launched the G.I. Joe line of action figures to capture the male half of the doll-buying market. This line also wound up surpassing $1 billion in annual sales by the 1990s.

Barbie isn’t without her controversies, though. Her impossible proportions have led to some complaints that the doll fosters an unhealthy body image among young girls. Ironically, Barbie’s birthday is celebrated less than a week after the end of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week — which itself occurs about a month after National Pie Day. Only in America.

Peak tech
The Nasdaq Composite closed at 5,046.86 points on March 9, 2000. It was the first of only two days in its history — the day that followed would mark the index’s all-time peak — that the Nasdaq has ever closed above 5,000 points. The rise to 5,000 displayed a classic bubble curve, as the Nasdaq more than doubled over the preceding year, buoyed by a number of extraordinarily hot dot-com IPOs (many of which became first-day multibaggers) and by extreme optimism around the transformative potential of computers and the Internet. The Nasdaq’s one-year double has never been replicated by the much older Dow industrials index, which experienced a comparatively modest 67% run-up during its best-ever annual rally of 1933.

As if to emphasize the divergence between the old-economy Dow and the new-economy Nasdaq, the former index earned half of its 1.6% gain from the rise of recent additions Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ) and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) . The Nasdaq grew twice as much, rising 149.60 points for a 3% gain, led by dot-com darlings Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ:CSCO) , and Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC) , which were then competing to claim the largest market cap in history. The Nasdaq’s P/E, distorted by a frothy mass of dot-com pretenders, was purportedly as high as 240 at the time.

This was the Nasdaq’s last hurrah. After topping out a day later with a very small gain, the index joined the Dow (in decline since mid-January) in a race to the bottom. The Nasdaq’s 59% decline in the year following March 9, 2000, more than erased its double since 1999. In the decade that followed, the Nasdaq never again came close to 5,000 points, and in early 2010 it still sagged beneath a 54% loss for those 10 years. None of the dot-com era Nasdaq’s three leading lights came close to regaining their old heights. Only Microsoft avoided a 50% decline in the decade following Nasdaq 5,000, and then not by much.

The article The Beginning and End of the 2 Great Crashes of the 21st Century originally appeared on and is written by Alex Planes.

Fool contributor Alex Planes owns shares of Intel. Add him on Google+ or follow him on Twitter, @TMFBiggles, for more insight into markets, history, and technology.The Motley Fool recommends Cisco Systems, Hasbro, Intel, and Mattel and owns shares of Hasbro, Intel, and Microsoft.

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