Throwback Thursday: Beware October 24

Today, October 24, is the anniversary of not just one but two of the biggest U.S. stock-market crashes in history: Black Thursday in 1929, which heralded the Great Depression, and Bloody Friday in 2008, which hastened in the worst recession since then.

What is it about the 24th? Or maybe a bigger question: What is it about October? On Oct. 27, 1997, there was the “mini-crash” of the Asian markets, and on Oct. 19, 1987—“Black Monday”—the U.S. market saw its biggest one-day drop in history, 508 points.

Commonweal, without suggesting a correlation between month and market crash, has nevertheless commented over the years on these periodic (predictable?) plunges and on what they may say about our economic system overall. From this 1929 “plea for economic disarmament” by John Carter [.pdf]:

“This—the moral obstacle to economic peace—is the enemy which must be destroyed before the world can recover its health and before international society can recover its sanity on the basis of a few simple, wholesome economic ideas. These ideas can be boiled down to the principle that what is for the good of one is for the good of all, where now one’s meat is frankly regarded as another nation’s poison.”

Our editors have been harsh with those who would try to sugar coat the economic turmoil, as in 1987 [.pdf]:

“Despite the sudden collapse and subsequent writhings of the stock market, the American economy is fundamentally sound. That, at least, has been the view expressed by numerous officials and economic seers, starting with Mr. Reagan. It is unclear whether they really believe what they are saying or whether they are saying it out of a felt duty not to make things worse. In any case, it is nonsense."

And in regard to Bloody Friday, there was this article from Charles R. Morris:

“A relatively short but very painful purging of the current excesses over the next couple of years could put the country on the path to a major economic transition. Temporizing, papering over the problem for fear of unpopularity, will merely ensure that the crisis drags on, like a chronic infection, for years.”

As of this writing, the market is actually up about one hundred points. But it’s still a couple of hours to close, and there are still five business days left in the month.

Ellen B. Koneck is the Acquisitions, Sales, & Marketing Manager at Anselm Academic in Minneapolis, MN. She previously worked at Commonweal and taught at Sacred Heart University. You can follow her on Twitter.

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