In Finance, what is Black Thursday?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2019
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Black Thursday is a term that is used to identify 29 October 1929, the day when the stock market in the United States plummeted, resulting in what is known as the Wall Street Crash of 1929. On this date, many fortunes were lost, leading to a widespread panic that resulted in many people attempting to pull their assets out of banks and other lending institutions. This action in turn resulted in the closing of many banks, which only served to increase the panic, and led to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Prior to Black Thursday, citizens in the United States had enjoyed a period of great prosperity. The nation emerged from World War I in an excellent economic condition, which led to the creation and expansion of a number of business enterprises. People who had never considered investing in the past began to purchase stocks and bonds, some of which had dubious backing. At first, this was not a problem, as older ventures were funded with the processed from newer ones, allowing a number of people to amass considerable assets, at least on paper.


With the economic crisis that began to develop in the United States and elsewhere during the latter part of the 1920s, some concerns about the backing of some stocks and bonds began to appear. With relatively little in the way of government regulation of banking and investment marketing, these practices were not considered illegal, just risky. However, as economic issues continued to proliferate, some of the weaker options began to falter, losing money for their investors. The end result was the collapse of the stock market in the United States on Black Thursday, and the resulting economic woes that had an impact on other investment markets around the world.

For some, Black Thursday was the day that everything they had worked for over the years was lost. People not only lost bank balances and stock portfolios, but in many cases also lost homes and farms when they were unable to keep up the mortgage payments on their properties. While many people found ways to cope and even to begin to build a more solid financial foundation, others were left homeless, drifting across the country in a search for work, food, and shelter. A number of suicides were attributed to the collapse of the stock market on Black Thursday.

As a response to the circumstances that led up to Black Thursday, the governments of the United States and other nations began to implement more stringent requirements for investors, as well as regulations on how various investment markets could function. These safeguards have helped to prevent subsequent shifts in the world economy from creating the same degree of destruction that was witnessed back in 1929. Over time, economists have studied the events that led to the stock market collapse and sought to apply the lessons learned to contemporary situations, occasionally recommending additional forms of regulation in order to maintain as much economic stability as possible, even under adverse circumstances.



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