1) Monday is the fifth anniversary of the bankruptcy filing of Lehman Brothers. In the prior week, September 8-12, 2008, Lehman had dropped 77 percent (!). AIG was down 46 percent, while Merrill Lynch plunged 36 percent.
It was an ugly Monday. On that morning five years ago, AIG was down almost 50 percent pre-open, and Bank of America announced it was buying Merrill.
REITS like Vornado, Brookfield and SL Green were down 11 to 20 percent midday on concerns Lehman might dump significant amounts of commercial real estate on the market. General Electric (GE), then CNBC's parent company, was down 6 percent, partly on concerns about its real estate exposure.
By the end of the day, the S&P 500 was down 4.7 percent, its worst day since September 17, 2001 (the opening after 9/11). It was only slightly better the following day, the 16th. Big cap financials attempted a rally, but UBS was down on concerns it had enormous exposure to U.S. mortgage backed securities (which it did).
My Trader Talk that week was full of discussions on how to provide a rescue plan for the banks, including an RTC-type plan to buy toxic debt. In the middle of the week the Reserve Primary Fund, a money market fund, "broke the bank" (the net asset value of the fund fell below $1) because it owned Lehman paper.
On Friday, September 19 of that year, the SEC banned short selling in financial stocks. Traders on the NYSE floor joked that if that plan didn't work, then SEC-chief Christopher Cox would ban long buying as well.
On Thursday the 19th of September, the UK also banned short selling in financial stocks. It was the beginning of a long debate on how to contain the crisis.
It's all rather painful to remember. Here's one good piece of news (I think): mutual funds five year returns are about to look a lot better. Once you get past this fall, the returns start to improve--dramatically. Marketwatch.com, citing Lipper, noted that if the fall of 2008 is taken off the books, the cumulative return of the average large-cap core fund goes from 37.82 percent going into September to 94.14 percent by the end of the year.
2) August retail sales were disappointing....expect strategists to lower third quarter growth estimates. Barclays already lowered their estimate, from 1.5 percent from 1.6 percent.
—By CNBC's Bob Pisani