MarketWatch 25 Years: MarketWatch Moments: How online brokers and the tech bubble set the tone for decades to come

by | Oct 10, 2022 | Stock Market

On an October morning 25 years ago, MarketWatch started providing real-time news and market data to the general public on the internet. Individuals were fleeing their stockbrokers for new online platforms, like E-Trade and Charles Schwab, and hungry for financial data and information that did not cost upwards of $10,000 annually to access.  The MarketWatch newsroom was built with these readers’ needs in mind and for the next 25 years we provided them unbiased coverage to help them make sense of financial markets and their personal financial decisions. 

As MarketWatch marks its 25th anniversary this week, we are looking back at the 25 biggest market events and developments that we have covered. These MarketWatch Moments shaped our current capital markets and will continue to reverberate. In the early days, there were five market events and developments that were titanic in their scope and set the tone for what was to come.   1. Online brokers and the rise of the day trader

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The internet and the discount brokerage model combined in the late 1990s to unleash a powerful new force on financial markets that was led by E-trade and Charles Schwab
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By 1998, million of Americans had moved their retail trading activities online, reshaping Wall Street forever. The internet also offered individual investors access to financial information, ranging from securities filings to market-moving news and data provided by emerging news organizations, like MarketWatch. CNBC’s market news became the default channel in waiting rooms and airport lounges and stock-market message boards were overrun with trading tips. Online brokers promised low commissions and a vehicle for quick trading profits. E-Trade ads in the late 90s tapped into a fear of missing out on a boom. One ad during the Super Bowl featured a patient being wheeled into an emergency room, suffering from a condition diagnosed as “money out the wazoo.” An estimated 10 million people quit their jobs to become “day traders,” adding to the frenzy around internet and technology stocks. Sometimes it felt like the Wild West and the abuses were real. But it was also clear that lower costs and easier access to information empowered individual investors to become active market participants, and would pressure Wall street to serve them better. 2. Russian ruble devalu …

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