To say U.S. markets had a record-breaking year would be an understatement. Finishing 2013 in a truly fitting fashion, the DOW closed at a record high Tuesday for the 52nd time this year.
JAKE TAPPER: "This will be a year to remember on Wall Street." (Via CNN)
THOMAS ROBERTS: "This has been a gangbuster year for those who are investing." (Via MSNBC)
Not since Bill Clinton's presidency have markets seen this kind of year. The DOW Industrial average finished up 26 percent from the start of the year — its best gain since 1995. The S&P 500 was up 29 percent — its best since 1997. And the NASDAQ grew 38 percent — its best since 2009. (Via BBC)
Indeed, the markets behaved much like they did in the 1990s. A strategist at JP Morgan Funds tells USA Today it was simply due to a "downsizing of fear" in investing that brought more money into stocks.
Though a CNBC analyst notes a market peak after a crash is not unusual.
"After plunges like this, in terms of the day-to-day variants, you get richochets."
All this market growth is especially surprising considering where the U.S. stood at the beginning of 2013 — and all the political and economic turmoil the nation narrowly avoided
Right from the start, the collision of spending cuts and higher taxes the media dubbed "the fiscal cliff" was played up as an economic killer. Its effects were softened by a bi-partisan deal. Turns out, the cliff was more bark than bite anyway. (Via YouTube / chuckboombuck, MSNBC)
There was also what looked like an imminent U.S. military conflict with Syria to set the markets on edge — though diplomacy kept America out of the nation's civil war. (Via The White House, ITN)
But while the Dow Jones, NASDAQ and the rest overperformed in 2013, it really does highlight just little the markets now are linked to the economic health of the country as a whole.
Throughout 2013, the unemployment rate has stayed stubbornly high, above 7 percent. Just this past week 1.3 million long-term unemployed Americans lost their unemployment benefits. (Via Bloomberg)
Nevertheless, it appears Wall Street has put the recession in the past.