This Day in Financial History - February 13 . . .

1990 - After spending a good part of the 1980s wheeling and dealing its way to the top of the financial world, the Drexel Burnham Lambert Group saw its empire crumble by the dawn of the 1990s. For a good spell, Drexel Burnham was barely a blip on Wall Street's radar. However, Drexel’s head of bond trading, Michael Milken, helped change the firm;s fortunes by focusing his efforts on the junk bond market. A long ignored sector of the investment industry, junk bonds focused on the buying and selling of high-risk, high-yield bonds issued by fledgling companies, as well as concerns with poor credit ratings. By the 1980s, junk bonds were booming, thanks in large part to the troubled savings and loan industry, which turned to the bonds in hopes of boosting their sagging fortunes. Drexel, which, thanks to Milken, dominated this market, fast became a Wall Street heavyweight. But, the firm's woes began in 1988 as the economy, which had boomed its way through the middle of the decade, turned sour. Prices of junk bonds plunged, which not only created a nasty financial mess, but also focused a spotlight on Milken and Drexel's less than savory practices. The government initiated a probe into the firm and its star trader: the investigation found Milken guilty of various securities infractions, including skimming generous amounts from depositors' funds; it also revealed a rat's nest of corruption and shady deals at Drexel Burnham. A trial ensued and the government slapped the firm with $650 million in fines. Coupled with the Drexel Burnham's sizable, and expensive, backstock of junk bonds, the fines placed a considerable burden on the firm's finances. By early 1990 Drexel had run out of funds and, on this day in 1990, filed for bankruptcy. Source:

1997 - The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 7,000 for the first time closing at 7,022.44. Source:

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