Crash! Nov. 15, 1929

Forbes - - Forbes @ 100 -

From Au­gust 1921 to Septem­ber 1929, as Amer­ica’s easy-credit econ­omy boomed, the stock mar­ket did, too. In that time the Dow Jones in­dus­trial av­er­age rose six­fold. When the U.S. skid­ded into re­ces­sion in late 1929—due in part to lower steel pro­duc­tion and re­duced home build­ing—eq­ui­ties also plum­meted. They be­gan slip­ping on Oct. 24 and con­tin­ued their slide through Oct. 29, “Black Tues­day.” Gen­eral Elec­tric fin­ished that day at $222 a share, hav­ing lost roughly half its mar­ket value from its high ear­lier in the year. Goodyear Tire had nose­dived from $154 to $67. U.S. Steel shares, once more than $260, de­clined to $174.

Ever the con­trar­ian, B.C. Forbes saw the car­nage as an op­por­tu­nity to buy. He had in­vested three-quar­ters of the money he had avail­able af­ter the crash and urged read­ers to fol­low: “I am will­ing to stake what­ever rep­u­ta­tion I may have … on this pre­dic­tion: Good stocks pur­chased dur­ing this lat­est panic will net large prof­its.”

Still, B.C. stopped well short of blind op­ti­mism. He con­cluded: “Now that the spec­u­la­tive orgy has ended, many who have been ne­glect­ing their le­git­i­mate busi­ness will re­turn to their knit­ting. … This will be a good thing for the coun­try. It can­not be ex­pected, how­ever, that pros­per­ity will en­tirely es­cape the stock panic’s af­ter­math.” as owner of base­ball’s los an­ge­les an­gels, wil­liam wrigley, the chew­ing-gum ti­tan, an­noyed his fel­low own­ers with a unique strat­egy: let­ting women at­tend games for free as a way to draw more (ticket-pur­chas­ing) men into the stands. his peers qui­eted down only when he “agreed not to ac­cept any por­tion of the ad­mis­sion fee charged women in the other parks of the league.” (wrigley, of course, also owned those peren­nial dis­ap­point­ments the chicago cubs.)

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