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The Stock Market Crash 1929

"The 1920's were a time of peace and great prosperity," starts stock-market-crash.net, like a typical horror story. "After World War I, the "Roaring Twenties" was fueled by increased industrialization and new technologies, such as the radio and the automobile. Air flight was also becoming widespread, as well. The economy benefited greatly from the new life changing technologies."

"As the Dow Jones Industrial Average soared, many investors quickly snapped up shares." Do you feel the tension mounting yet? "Stocks were seen as extremely safe by most economists, due to the powerful economic boom. Investors soon purchased stock on margin. Margin is the borrowing of stock for the purpose of getting more leverage. For every dollar invested, a margin user would borrow 9 dollars worth of stock. Because of this leverage, if a stock went up 1 percent, the investor would make 10 percent! This also works the other way around, exaggerating even minor losses. If a stock drops too much, a margin holder could lose all of their money AND owe their broker money as well."

Wikipedia's version of the story is much more matter of fact and much less a version an unimaginative investment banker would tell the poor neighbor's children on a dark and cloudy night.

"The October 1929 crash came during a period of declining real estate values in the United States (which peaked in 1925) near the beginning of a chain of events that led to the Great Depression, a period of economic decline in the industrialized nations.

In the days leading up to "Black Thursday", the market was severely unstable. Periods of selling and high volumes of trading were interspersed with brief periods of rising prices and recovery. Economist and author Jude Wanniski later correlated these swings with the prospects for passage of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, which was then being debated in Congress. After the crash, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) partially recovered in November-December 1929 and early 1930, only to reverse and crash again, reaching a low point of the great bear market in 1932. On July 8, 1932 the Dow reached its lowest level of the 20th century and did not return to pre-1929 levels until 23 November 1954.

After a six-year run when the world saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average increase in value fivefold, prices peaked at 381.17 on September 3, 1929. The market then fell sharply for a month, losing 17 percent of its value on the initial leg down.

Prices then recovered more than half of the losses over the next week, only to turn back down immediately afterwards. The decline then accelerated into the so-called "Black Thursday", October 24, 1929. A then-record number of 12.9 million shares were traded on that day."

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