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How Much Did The Stock Market Lose In The Great Depression?

Posted by 6Fah on January 9, 2012 at 1015pm View Blog

The Devastating Crash: A Historical Perspective

The Great Depression, which occurred in the 1930s, was a period of widespread economic downturn that had a significant impact on the stock market. The crash of the stock market during this time was one of the most significant events in American history, leading to widespread financial devastation and years of economic struggle.

The Initial Plunge

The stock market crash of 1929 marked the beginning of the Great Depression. It was on October 24, 1929, that panic selling on Wall Street triggered a massive decline in stock prices. This day became infamously known as “Black Thursday.” The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost a staggering 11% of its value in just one day.

Black Tuesday: The Worst Day

Black Tuesday, which occurred on October 29, 1929, was the most devastating day in stock market history. On this day, the DJIA lost an additional 12% of its value, making it the single worst day in stock market history. The crash wiped out millions of dollars in wealth and sent shockwaves throughout the nation.

The Overall Loss

During the Great Depression, the stock market experienced a total loss of around 90% of its value. This immense decline was a result of not just the initial crash but also the subsequent economic hardships that followed. The effects of the crash were felt by millions of Americans, leading to widespread unemployment, poverty, and hardship.

The Ripple Effect: Impact on the Economy

The stock market crash of the Great Depression had a significant impact on the overall economy. As stock prices plummeted, businesses collapsed, and banks failed, leading to a severe contraction in economic activity. The ripple effect of the crash was felt in various sectors of the economy.

Bank Failures and the Loss of Savings

Following the stock market crash, numerous banks failed, causing a loss of savings for many Americans. Without access to their money, people were unable to make purchases, leading to a decline in consumer spending. This further worsened the economic situation and contributed to the depth and duration of the Great Depression.

Unemployment and Poverty

The crash of the stock market resulted in widespread unemployment and poverty. As businesses closed down, workers were laid off, and job opportunities became scarce. The unemployment rate soared to over 25%, leaving millions of Americans without a source of income. Poverty levels increased dramatically, and families struggled to make ends meet.

Lessons Learned: The Importance of Regulation

The stock market crash of the Great Depression led to significant changes in financial regulations. The lack of oversight and regulation in the 1920s allowed for speculative trading and excessive risk-taking, contributing to the crash. In response, the U.S. government implemented new policies and regulations to prevent a similar disaster in the future.

The Creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)

In 1934, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) was established to regulate the stock market. The SEC’s primary goal was to protect investors, ensure fair trading practices, and maintain the integrity of the market. This regulatory body continues to play a crucial role in overseeing the financial markets today.

Increased Government Intervention

The Great Depression also led to a shift in the role of the government in the economy. The U.S. government implemented various programs and policies, such as the New Deal, to stimulate economic growth and provide relief to those affected by the crash. These interventions aimed to stabilize the economy and prevent future economic crises.


The stock market crash of the Great Depression was a catastrophic event that resulted in significant financial losses. The crash, along with the subsequent economic hardships, had a profound impact on the lives of millions of Americans. However, it also served as a catalyst for important regulatory changes and government interventions that aimed to prevent a similar disaster in the future.