But in 1929, the bubble burst and stocks started down an even more precipitous cliff. In 1932 and 1933, they hit bottom, down about 80% from their highs in the late 1920s. This had sharp effects on the economy.
The Wall Street Crash of 1929, also known as the Black Tuesday and the Stock Market Crash of 1929, began in late October 1929 and was the most devastating stock market crash in the history of the United States, when taking into consideration the full extent and duration of its fallout. The crash signaled the beginning of the 10-year Great Depression that affected all Western industrialized countries and did not end in the United States until the onset of American mobilization for World War II at the end of 1941. 15 million people had unemployment coming to them after the banks crashed.
The Roaring Twenties, the decade that led up to the Crash, was a time of wealth and excess. Despite the dangers of speculation, many believed that the stock market would continue to rise indefinitely. The market had been on a nine-year run that saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average increase in value tenfold, peaking at 381.17 on September 3, 1929. Shortly before the crash, economist Irving Fisher famously proclaimed, "Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." The optimism and financial gains of the great bull market were shaken on September 18, 1929, when share prices on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) abruptly fell.
In the days leading up to the crash, 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.
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