The purpose of this report is to discuss in detail the stock market crash of 1987. The stock market is supposed to fluctuate from day-to-day. But this account will delve into some of the less obvious reasons for that dramatic day on Wall Street and also providing additional insights into how and why investors are in the game and why they were so taken aback by that particular market downturn.
This testimony will also examine some of the more immediate consequences that occurred immediately following the events and how those series of events have carried through to the mindset of present day investments and the Federal Reserve Bank's policies and procedures. Then the report will try to ascertain some lessons learned so as to avoid repeating history.
The report also attempts to explain some investor philosophies that are continually occurring throughout history. Unfortunately, investors seem to constantly miss the signs that have lead and will continue to lead to major losses in the free market environments throughout world history.
The lessons learned also touch upon the steps taken by the overseers of the market itself that have the sole purpose of preventing future crashes of the magnitude of 1987's downturn. Some of those fail safes like new circuit breakers and market limits instituted after 1987 are still working to protect investors today.
Defining those measures will provide a new found understanding of the how our market works today. Events such as Black Tuesday and other current events like the Iraq war and the terroristic attacks on September 11, 2001, all have affects on the market and the typical investment strategy. To make things interesting, the report will do a bit of speculation in order to see if s severe market crash is in our immediate future or if the fail safes will suffice to keep the profits rolling in.
Why Do Investors Invest
Before getting into 1987 and Black Tuesday, a broader question may first come to mind. What motivates a person or an organization to buy securities in the first place? Basic economic theory states that money spent in one place can not be spent in another place. In other words, once committed in the securities market, that money is tied up and can not be spent in any different way. So, why don't people just spend their money on gadgets or televisions?
The key to the answer revolves around the fact that people in general want to create savings in order to pass the money into the future. Savings takes into consideration a person's future cash needs. Also, a second motivation is man's innate need to increase wealth. Better put, man likes to raise money in a way that is similar to raising children.
Making money grow often leads to a temporary insanity where the person desiring to raise or grow his money is compelled to get rich faster than is possible. The need for wealth forces an individual into taking a bigger risk than need be. If a person purchases a lottery ticket, his chance of getting rich increases in proportion probability to how many other people are playing and the possible random chances the lottery has built in.
The stock market is not like a lottery. One may be willing to invest with the intent of the big pay off which of course is similar to a lottery ticket purchase, but the sometimes the big payoff is not worth the price of participation. "How a lack of major news or important events prior to the decline could justify a 22% change. The cause was psychological, caused by an old memory. Thus it needed no events or important news to emerge." (Black Tuesday)
Sometimes the market bites.
(Market Crash of 1987)
The Efficient Market Theory
The efficient markets hypothesis proclaims no one in theory can ever beat the market. The main thought in the efficient markets hypothesis is that when it comes to stock or market prices, the market as an entity has already accounted for any and all relevant information. "This is a highly controversial and often disputed theory. Supporters of this model believe it is pointless to search for undervalued stocks or try to predict trends in the market through any technique from fundamental to technical analysis. Academics point to a large body of evidence that is in support of EMH." (Greatest Market Crashes)
Market efficiency has many implications for investors. Because the market is efficient it is very difficult to misdirect the investors for too long because only substantial news should move the price of a stock. But there seem to be exceptions to the efficient markets hypothesis. What the efficient market hypothesis does not take into consideration is an occurrence called speculative bubbles.
Basically, the prices can fluctuate in either direction because of the whims associated to a type of investor psychosis or even lunacy. Why would this have anything to do with the Crash of 1987?
Speculative Bubbles and Some Investor History
Throughout history, there have been many investors caught with their hand in the cookie jar so to speak. In investing that history revolves around the bursting of one speculative bubble after another. A speculative bubble is an investment phenomenon that can be equated to a school of piranha getting the smell of blood as an injured animal enters the water.
The bottom line is that these bubbles have historically been caused by greed and maybe even a in the human animal. Whatever the reason, it is more than apparent that investors keep repeating the same mistakes as though there have never been other speculative bubbles to learn from. Some examples of speculative bubbles have memorable names such as the Tulip-Bulb craze and the Florida Real Estate Craze. But of interest here is the Crash of 1987.
"A bubble occurs when investors put so much demand on a stock that they drive the price beyond any accurate or rational reflection of its actual worth, which should be determined by the performance of the underlying company." (Greatest Market Crashes) Even though the bubble events mentioned took place in completely different eras, the similarities can not be ignored. A bubble builds on a false notion that the good times will never end.
Take The Florida Real Estate Craze for example. In 1926, the United States economy was functioning on high gear and population in the United States felt, as is usually the case, that the nation's prosperity and growth was endless.
However, the real estate market crashed and many people lost fortunes and life savings. "The prices were so inflated that to buy a condo-style property in 1926, you would've had to pay the same as you would now have to pay for a luxury home in the guard-gated communities in Miami ($4,500,000) -- without adjusting for inflation!" (Greatest Market Crashes)
The crash in the real estate industry could have been prevented if only investors had read the recorded history of the Dutch. Because, in 1634, instead of Florida Real Estate it was the Dutch tulip industry; thus the name Tulip-Bulb craze.
Sure, the scenario could be said to not be related at all, but the all important outcome was the same. A virus created a new and unique color in tulip pedals imported out of Turkey. Demand for these particular flowers took off and the rest is history. "Thus, tulips, which were already selling at a premium, began to rise in price according to how their virus alterations were valued, or desired. Everyone began to deal in bulbs, essentially speculating on the tulip market, which was believed to have no limits." (Greatest Market Crashes)
Speculative bubbles will continue to occur. On October 19, 1987, the United States stock market could have been selling either Florida land or Dutch tulips. The end result was the same. "The amount the market declined from peak to bottom: 508.32 points, 22.6%, or $500 billion lost in one day." (Greatest Market Crashes) Investors seem too dense to learn. The speculative bubble history and the correlated finical losses are too overwhelming:
1634 Tulip-Bulb Craze
1926 Florida Real Estate Craze
The Nifty-Fifty Era
The Japanese Equity Bubble of the 1980's
Black Tuesday 1987
What Is Black Tuesday
As demonstrated by the hourly chart below, Black Tuesday was an intense effort to sell the house. When the Standard and Poorer's 500 Index fell approximately twenty percent in a single day on Tuesday, October 19, 1987, whole fortunes were lost in the blink of an eye. The twenty percent drop was the largest one day drop in the entire history of this or any other stock market performance.
There was also a less dramatic but just as serious ripple effect felt in markets all over the globe as they also crashed. The crash was so severe that many of the major stocks had to be pulled off the trading floor many for the first times in their history. When all was said…