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Barry Ritholtz

Echoes of the Black Monday Crash of '87

There are things to learn from that debacle. Just don't overdo it.
Yes, they really dressed like that.

Yes, they really dressed like that.

Photographer: James Marshall/Corbis/Getty Images

Later this week, Oct. 19 will mark the 30th anniversary of the 1987 stock-market crash, which happened to fall on a Monday. That day -- Black Monday -- still stands as the biggest percentage loss in the history of the Dow Jones Industrial average, with a 22.6 percent, or 508 point, decline.

During periods of confusion -- that is, almost all of the time -- investors often look to the historical record for insight. They want to understand the present by gazing into the past, even when the analogy doesn't quite work. We all read about issues such as peak earnings, New York Stock Exchangemargin debt, sentiment, volatility, national deficits, even rising home prices, and try to draw comparisons with yesteryear. Perhaps my favorite of these exercises are the false parallels that have been drawn repeatedly between today and the 1987 crash.