June 19, 2024
The Big Picture

Unveiling the Secrets of the Dow Jones Industrial Average Crash in 1987

It was a day that shook the financial world to its core. On October 19, 1987, the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced a historic crash, losing 22.6% of its value in a single day. This event, known as Black Monday, sent shockwaves throughout the global markets and left investors in a state of panic and uncertainty.

So, what exactly was the Dow in 1987? The Dow Jones Industrial Average, often referred to as simply the Dow, is a stock market index that measures the performance of 30 large, publicly-owned companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges. It is one of the most widely recognized and followed stock market indices in the world.

In 1987, the Dow had already experienced significant growth, reaching record highs in the months leading up to Black Monday. However, on that fateful day, the market faced a perfect storm of factors that led to the crash.

The Factors Behind the 1987 Dow Crash

One of the key factors contributing to the crash was an accumulation of market imbalances and distortions. The market had become overheated, with stock prices soaring to unsustainable levels. This created a bubble that was waiting to burst.

Another factor was the growing concern over rising interest rates. The Federal Reserve had been tightening monetary policy to combat inflation, which led to higher borrowing costs. This, in turn, put pressure on corporate profits and investor sentiment.

Additionally, the use of new computerized trading systems, known as program trading, exacerbated the crash. These systems automatically executed trades based on predetermined criteria, which led to a cascade of selling as the market started to decline. The speed and volume of the selling overwhelmed the market, exacerbating the downward spiral.

The Aftermath and Lessons Learned

In the aftermath of the crash, there was widespread panic and fear in the markets. However, the Dow eventually recovered from the crash and continued its long-term upward trend. This event served as a wake-up call for regulators and market participants, highlighting the need for improved risk management and oversight.

Regulatory changes were implemented to address some of the vulnerabilities exposed by the crash. Circuit breakers, which temporarily halt trading when there are significant market declines, were introduced to prevent excessive volatility. The Securities and Exchange Commission also imposed stricter rules on program trading to mitigate the potential for future crashes.

Despite the lessons learned, the 1987 crash remains one of the most significant events in financial history. It serves as a reminder of the inherent volatility and unpredictability of the stock market, and the importance of diversification and risk management in investment strategies.


The Dow Jones Industrial Average crash in 1987 was a momentous event that sent shockwaves through the financial world. It was a culmination of various factors, including market imbalances, rising interest rates, and the advent of program trading. While the crash caused widespread panic, it also prompted regulatory changes and lessons that have shaped the financial markets ever since. The Dow eventually recovered and continued its upward trajectory, serving as a reminder of the resilience and long-term potential of the stock market.