Which Pandemics Affected The Stock Market The Most?

By Susanna Redmer on March 14 2020 in Answer

The Covid-19 pandemic caused the Dow Jones Industrial Average to drop nearly 10% in a day.
The Covid-19 pandemic caused the Dow Jones Industrial Average to drop nearly 10% in a day.
  • The Spanish Flu had little impact on the stock market.
  • The Asian Flu also had little impact on the stock market.
  • The Asian flu was identified in China in 1957.

A pandemic is an epidemic that happens over a very large area. It crosses, countries, continents, and oceans. In the twentieth century, three influenza and the spread of the AIDS virus are considered pandemics. The three flu outbreaks took place in 1918, 1957, and 1968. The first HIV case that was verified was in 1959. Read through the following paragraphs to learn how pandemics effect the stock market.

Spanish Flu

The Spanish Influenza (Spanish Flu) epidemic occurred from 1918-1920. About 20-40% of the worldwide population and around 20 million people died. 50,000 people died in the U.S. alone. The fatality rate was so high because information was not easily shared or accessible. The Spanish Flu came at the end of World War I (WWI). The world was in a state of chaos during that time.

Stock market returns from those years are difficult to obtain. The Spanish Flu's impact on the stock market was small. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was mostly unchanged throughout the infection's course. Global supply chains were almost nonexistent since WWI disrupted the majority of them. However, at the end of the Spanish Flu in February of 1919 the market increased by 50%.

 Hong Kong Flu

The Hong Kong Flu originated in Hong Kong. This flu resulted in about 30,000 deaths. The Hong Kong Flu began on July 13, 1968. The Hong Kong flu varies greatly in severity between different populations and areas of the world. From the flu's start to its end in 1969, the Dow fell 13.24%. During the worst times of this epidemic, the Dow decreased by a bit more than 21%.

Asian Flu

The Asian flu was first identified in China in February of 1957. By June of 1957, it had spread to the U.S. 70,000 people in the U.S. died from this flu strain. Officials worried that a pandemic may occur. Science had advanced enough to have created a vaccine by August of 1957. This flu also had a small impact on markets.

Swine Flu

The Swine Flu started in Mexico in April of 2009. It came from a mix of bird, swine, human, and Eurasian pig flu viruses. 700 million to 1.4 billion people worldwide became infected with the virus. Approximately 150,000-575,000 died as a result of the infection.

The U.S. had just overcome the 2008 financial crisis. Stocks had not yet risen to their full values. The virus piqued in October of 2009 in the United States and ended August 11, 2010. During that time, the Dow had increased by over 40%.


The AIDS epidemic really started in the mid-to-late 1970s. HIV spread to five continents including North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Australia by 1980. Over 675,000 people have died from HIV/AIDS. Scientific advancements and antiretroviral drugs have now allowed people with HIV to live longer, healthy lives. In June of 1981, at the height of the epidemic, the S&P 500 decreased by 16.5% over twelve months.


The first case of the Coronavirus was reported on December 31, 2009. This is the first time it has been found in humans. Currently, stocks have fallen down over 20% into bear market territory. The VIX, which indicates investor fear, climbed to over 75 on Black Tursday (March 12, 2020). Airline stocks and cruise stocks have dropped significantly since the advent of the virus. A virus may heighten fear, but it's important not to panic. The U.S. has a strong economy now, but Covid-19 may lead to a global recession. However, this will be temporary. More precise information will be available on first-quarter earnings after March 31. That information may be a better predictor of the virus's impact.

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