The Best (And Worst) Performing ETFs For Every Quarter

Published on by on August 26, 2013 | Updated February 25, 2014

Over the last eight years, Wall Street has seen periods of booming growth and catastrophic financial hardships; however, even during periods of economic turmoil, certain corners of the market managed to deliver stellar returns, while others took significant hits [see Select Sector SPDR ETFs Head-To-Head].

In this interactive chart, we highlight the best and worst ETF performers in each quarter, as well as key economic data and major current events.










What Happened In Q1 2005?George W. Bush

U.S. GDP was 3.8%

Unemployment was 5.2%

Inflation CPI was 3.04%

George W. Bush started his second term as President of the United States.

What Happened In Q2 2005?YouTube

U.S. GDP was 2.7%

Unemployment was 5.0%

Inflation CPI was 2.95%

The first video was uploaded on YouTube.

What Happened In Q3 2005?Katrina Seen From Space

U.S. GDP was 4.2%

Unemployment was 5.0%

Inflation CPI was 3.83%

Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the U.S.. The Category 4 storm marked the biggest natural disaster in U.S. history.

What Happened In Q4 2005?Xbox 360 Launches

U.S. GDP was 3.4%

Unemployment was 4.9%

Inflation CPI was 3.74%

Microsoft (MSFT) launched its second video game console – the Xbox 360.

What Happened In Q1 2006?bernanke

U.S. GDP was 3.0%

Unemployment was 4.7%

Inflation CPI was 3.65%

Ben Bernanke was sworn in as the new chairman of the Federal Reserve.

What Happened In Q2 2006?MasterCard

U.S. GDP was 3.6%

Unemployment was 4.6%

Inflation CPI was 4.01%

MasterCard (MA) stock began trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

What Happened In Q3 2006?BP

U.S. GDP was 3.0%

Unemployment was 4.5%

Inflation CPI was 3.34%

BP was forced to close its operations in Prudhoe Bay, the nation’s largest oil field, after pipeline corrosion was discovered.

What Happened In Q4 2006?Dow Jones

U.S. GDP was 1.8%

Unemployment was 4.4%

Inflation CPI was 1.94%

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed above 12,000 for the first time.

What Happened In Q1 2007?Freddie Mac

U.S. GDP was 4.6%

Unemployment was 4.4%

Inflation CPI was 2.42%

The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) announced that it will no longer buy the most risky subprime mortgages and mortgage-related securities.

What Happened In Q2 2007?New Century Financial

U.S. GDP was 2.8%

Unemployment was 4.6%

Inflation CPI was 2.65%

New Century Financial Corporation (a leading subprime mortgage lender) filed for bankruptcy. In June, S&P and Moody’s downgrade over 100 MBS. Meanwhile, the Fed voted to keep the fed funds rate at 5.25%.

What Happened In Q3 2007?Bank-of-England

U.S. GDP was 1.3%

Unemployment was 4.7%

Inflation CPI was 2.36%

Bear Stearns liquidated two hedge funds. American Home Mortgage Investment Corp. filed for bankruptcy. The Fed voted to reduce the fed funds rate to 4.75%. The Bank of England provided emergency aid to Northern Rock.

What Happened In Q4 2007?Jamie Dimon

U.S. GDP was 1.9%

Unemployment was 5.0%

Inflation CPI was 3.97%

Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America agree to a $75 billion superfund to restore confidence, but then abandon plans because it was “not needed at the time.” The Fed voted to reduce the fed funds rate to 4.25% and created the Term Auction Facility (TAF).

What Happened In Q1 2008?Bear Stearns

U.S. GDP was 2.5%

Unemployment was 5.1%

Inflation CPI was 4.09%

Bank of America agrees to purchase Countrywide Financial. J.P. Morgan Chase, with the help of the U.S. government, buys out Bear Stearns. The Fed funds rate is slashed to 2.25% and the central bank begins to extend credit to primary dealers.

What Happened In Q2 2008?Indy Mac Bank Closes

U.S. GDP was 2.5%

Unemployment was 5.6%

Inflation CPI was 4.38%

FOMC cuts fed funds rate 25 basis points to 2.0% and expands list of eligible collateral for TSLF auctions. The Office of Thrift Supervision closes IndyMac Bank. Crude oil hits new high of $140 a barrel.

What Happened In Q3 2008?Lehman Falls

U.S. GDP was 3.1%

Unemployment was 6.1%

Inflation CPI was 5.30%

The U.S. government takes over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Merril Lynch is sold to Bank of America. Lehman Brothers file for bankruptcy. The Fed bails out American International Group (AIG). The FDIC seizes Washington Mutual and sells its assets to JPMorgan Chase. Citigroup buys banking operations of Wachovia.

What Happened In Q4 2008?Bush's Bailout

U.S. GDP was 0.5%

Unemployment was 7.3%

Inflation CPI was 1.60%

Congress passes the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, establishing the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). The Fed provides $900 billion in short-term cash loans to banks and $1.3 trillion directly to companies and slashes the fed funds rate to 0.25%. The Dow logs in its worst week ever, while volatility spikes to levels not seen in over 100 years.

What Happened In Q1 2009?Obama Elected President

U.S. GDP was 1.0%

Unemployment was 8.7%

Inflation CPI was -0.04%

Barack Obama is inaugurated as the 44th President of the U.S. Obama signs the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The Dow Jones Industrial Averaged drops below 7000 for the first time since 1997. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner announces the creation of the Public-Private Investment Fund.

What Happened In Q2 2009?Chrysler and GM Bankrupt

U.S. GDP was -0.8%

Unemployment was 9.5%

Inflation CPI was -1.15%

Chrysler and General Motors file for bankruptcy. The Fed reveals the results of their forward-looking economic assessments, “stress tests,” of large U.S. bank holding companies; combined, 10 banks are reported to need $185 billion in additional capital.

What Happened In Q3 2009?Obama Re-elects Bernanke

U.S. GDP was 0.5%

Unemployment was 9.8%

Inflation CPI was -1.62%

The Case-Shiller index shows the first rise in U.S. housing prices in three years. The U.S. recession officially ends. Obama nominates Ben Bernanke as the Fed’s chairman for a second term.

What Happened In Q4 2009?CEO Pay Cuts

U.S. GDP was 1.3%

Unemployment was 9.9%

Inflation CPI was 1.46%

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes above 10,000 for the first time in a year. President Obama orders pay cuts for the top-paid employees of those firms that received the most stimulus money. G.E. sells NBC Universal to Comcast.

What Happened In Q1 2010?Obamacare

U.S. GDP was 1.5%

Unemployment was 9.9%

Inflation CPI was 2.36%

President Obama signs the landmark health care overhaul bill, aptly dubbed “Obamacare.” The Fed raises the discount rate charged to banks for direct loans to 0.75%.

What Happened In Q2 2010?BP Oil Spill

U.S. GDP was 1.7%

Unemployment was 9.4%

Inflation CPI was 1.77%

BP’s Deep Horizon oil platform explodes in the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in one of the largest oil spills in history. Apple passes Microsoft as the world’s top technology company. The Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup.

What Happened In Q3 2010?Goldman Settles

U.S. GDP was 2.0%

Unemployment was 9.5%

Inflation CPI was 1.17%

The Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act is signed into law by Obama. China officially becomes the second-largest economy in the world. Goldman Sachs agrees to a $550 million settlement with the government after being accused of misleading investors during the crisis.

What Happened In Q4 2010?GM

U.S. GDP was 2.1%

Unemployment was 9.3%

Inflation CPI was 1.27%

The Fed announces a second round of quantitative easing (QE2) through the purchase of $600 billion in Treasuries. President Obama implements a pay freeze for federal employees. Shares of General Motors (GM) are re-launched on the NYSE.

What Happened In Q1 2011?Greek Riots

U.S. GDP was 2.0%

Unemployment was 8.9%

Inflation CPI was 2.14%

Commodity prices soar. The bookstore Borders files for bankruptcy. Protests in Greece erupt as the debt-burdened country seeks to come to an agreement on austerity measures.

What Happened In Q2 2011?Situation Room

U.S. GDP was 2.6%

Unemployment was 9.1%

Inflation CPI was 3.43%

Osama bin Laden is killed in Pakistan by U.S. troops and CIA operatives. Shares of Linkedin Corporation (LNKD) start trading on the NYSE. The eurozone leaders approve a bailout package for Portugal.

What Happened In Q3 2011?Occupy Wall Street

U.S. GDP was 3.0%

Unemployment was 9.0%

Inflation CPI was 3.75%

Obama and Congress reach a last minute deal to raise the debt ceiling in an effort to avert a debt crisis. S&P lowers the U.S. credit rating. U.S. equities suffer worst selloff in two years. Occupy Wall Street protests begin.

What Happened In Q4 2011?Steve Jobs

U.S. GDP was 0.4%

Unemployment was 8.5%

Inflation CPI was 3.29%

Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple, dies. The U.S. formally declares the end of the Iraq War. Michael Kors Holdings starts trading on the NYSE. Italian Prime Minister Berlusconi resigns, Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou agrees to resign.

What Happened In Q1 2012?Queen Elizabeth II

U.S. GDP was 2.0%

Unemployment was 8.2%

Inflation CPI was 2.81%

Greece gets bailed out – again. Unemployment in the eurozone rises to 10.7%, the highest level in its history. Yelp Inc. begins trading on the NYSE. The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II is held, marking her 60th anniversary as queen.

What Happened In Q2 2012?Facebook IPO

U.S. GDP was 1.6%

Unemployment was 8.2%

Inflation CPI was 1.89%

Facebook begins trading on the NYSE. The Federal Reserved extends “Operation Twist,” marking the third round of QE. The Supreme Court upholds Obamacare.

What Happened In Q3 2012?Benghazi

U.S. GDP was 2.7%

Unemployment was 7.8%

Inflation CPI was 1.69%

The European Central Bank cuts its lending rate to 0.75% and launches the “outright monetary transactions” program. Russia enters the World Trade Organization. The U.S. Embassy in Benghazi is attacked.

What Happened In Q4 2012?debateb

U.S. GDP was 1.0%

Unemployment was 7.8%

Inflation CPI was 1.89%

The world does not end on December 21, 2012. Ben Bernanke introduces the idea of ending QE. Hurricane Sandy slams into the East Coast. Obama wins re-election against Mitt Romney.

What Happened In Q1 2013?Fiscal Cliff

U.S. GDP was 1.1%

Unemployment was 7.6%

Inflation CPI was 1.68%

President Obama is inaugurated for a second term. Cyprus receives a bailout from the European Union. The Senate approves a last minute budget deal to avoid the fiscal cliff.

What Happened In Q2 2013?Protests In Turkey

U.S. GDP was 1.7%

Unemployment was 7.4%

Inflation CPI was 1.70%

Violent protests break out in Turkey and Egypt. Multiple bombs exploded during the Boston Marathon. Yahoo (YHOO) bought Tumbler for $1.1 billion. T-Mobile (TMUS) debuted on the New York Stock Exchange. The U.S. reclaimed its spot as the top export market for Japan, beating China. 

What Happened In Q3 2013?Budget

U.S. GDP was 4.1%

Unemployment was 7.3%

Inflation CPI was 1.50%

Investors turned their attention to the Fed, as many believed the central bank would begin tapering in September; the Fed, however, decided to delay tapering once again. Meanwhile Congress remained in a gridlock over budget talks; no decision was reached by the deadline of September 30, 2013.

Q3 2013 Best & Worst Performers

What Happened In Q4 2013?bernanke-statement

U.S. GDP was 2.0%

Unemployment was 6.7%

Inflation CPI was 1.20%

After Congress failed to come to a budget agreement, the U.S. Federal Government officially shut down from October 1 to October 16. In his final news conference as Fed Chairman, Bernanke announced that the Fed will begin its taper in January of 2014. On the corporate front, JPMorgan (JPM) was fined a record $13 billion by the U.S. government. Twitter (TWTR) also made its debut on the NYSE.