IT History: 1988, IT Contributes to Market Crash

A View into IT History: February 1988

SEC Says Computerized Trading Systems Worsened Market Crash

Feb. 2, 1988 After the "Black Monday" stock-market crash of Oct. 19, 1987, when the Dow fell by 508 points, or 22.6 percent, everyone wanted to know why, and whom to blame. Four months later, the Securities and Exchange Commission issues a report citing computerized trading systems as having "an indirect negative effect" on the market. Of course, economic factors were front and center: Rising interest rates. A weak U.S. dollar. Plans in Congress to nix tax benefits for corporate mergers. But the SEC report notes that computer-directed strategies used by institutional investors trading large volumes of stock accounted for up to 68 percent of New York Stock Exchange trades at times during the Black Monday debacle, The Washington Post explained. Black Monday ended with an hour-long panic sell-off.

Among the report’s proposals: Develop a new system for recording big computer-directed program trades to better monitor market conditions.

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Copyright © 2004 IDG Communications, Inc.

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