Black Tuesday: The most disastrous stock market crash in history, 93 years ago

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A stock market crash can make even the most modest investors tremble in their shoes. When the market falls, experts often advise people to avoid panicking. However, that is easier said than done. For those who have been able to invest a few dollars, it’s hard to wait for those drops to pass.

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Over the decades, there have been some particularly severe stock market crashes. Near the start of the pandemic in 2020, there was a 34 percent stock market crash, but a surprisingly rapid turnaround followed. In 2008, a global financial crisis, subprime mortgage crisis, and housing bubble burst caused many, especially in the United States, to lose their homes, jobs, and savings, while the S&P 500 lost 57 percent. cent of its value. Other accidents have also had devastating effects, such as the bursting of the Dotcom bubble in 2000 and the oil crisis and economic recession of 1973.

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This photo shows traders working on Wall Street in New York.  October 1929 was the beginning of the biggest stock market crash in history.  AFP photo via Getty Images.
This photo shows traders working on Wall Street in New York. October 1929 was the beginning of the biggest stock market crash in history. AFP photo via Getty Images.

Many say, however, that the most disastrous stock market crash of all time was on October 29, 1929, which caused the Dow to lose 89 percent of its value. The stock market took a full 25 years to recover its value. The economy had been revving up and the 1920s were giving many a good time, until stocks started to slide in September. Those drops turned catastrophic on October 28 and 29, a day that became known as Black Tuesday and ushered in an era of Great Depression, a global economic downturn, and Dust-Bowl droughts. In 1932, the stock market hit its depressingly low floor, sitting 89 percent below its all-time high.

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In this 1929 file photo, stockbrokers and others crowd around newspapers after the Wall Street stock market crash.  Photo by Eddie Jackson/KRT.
In this 1929 file photo, stockbrokers and others crowd around newspapers after the Wall Street stock market crash. Photo by Eddie Jackson/KRT. KRT

While there were reports of an epidemic of suicides after Black Tuesday, only a few such sad and immediate cases were documented. A member of the New York Mercantile Exchange, who suffered heavy losses in the crash, jumped from the seventh-floor ledge of his attorney’s office. And a 28-year veteran brokerage firm employee jumped from the roof of a 40-story building the following week. The suicide rate in the United States increased as the Great Depression continued, with the rate rising from 17 suicides per 100,000 people in 1929 to more than 21 per 100,000 in 1932. Life was difficult for many. In Canada, the TSX suffered huge losses and many saw modest savings, and even fortunes, disappear. The Canadian Encyclopedia notes that one in five Canadians became dependent on government aid to survive during the Great Depression that followed and birth rates fell from 13.1 per 1,000 people in 1930 to 9.7 in 1937.

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This photo from October 1929 shows people rushing to a savings bank in Millbury, Massachusetts, when the stock market crash triggered a bank run across the United States.  AFP photo via Getty Images.
This photo from October 1929 shows people rushing to a savings bank in Millbury, Massachusetts, when the stock market crash triggered a bank run across the United States. AFP photo via Getty Images. AFP/Getty Images
This photo dated October 1929 shows traders running as the New York Stock Exchange crashed.  AFP photo via Getty Images.
This photo dated October 1929 shows traders running as the New York Stock Exchange crashed. AFP photo via Getty Images.

What follows are some of the Herald’s archived pages and stories related to the great stock market crash of 1929. On October 24, 1929 (a day some refer to as Black Thursday), nervous investors began selling stocks, worried about speculation that an imminent accident could occur; 12.9 million shares were traded that day, a record at the time. The big banks told the newspapers that they would not allow that problem to continue and predicted (incorrectly) that the October 24 panic selling was over.

Newspaper stories for October 26, 1929, indicated that “calm had returned to the market.”

On October 28, some financial experts pointed out that the stock market crash might not be over and that many stock prices were still inflated.

On October 29, 1929, the stock market crash continued as more than 16.4 million shares were traded. Billions of dollars were lost. The millionaires were left almost without money. One news item stated that “a winner could not be found”.

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