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October 29, 1929: 'Black Tuesday'

Stock market
The stock market was smaller in 1929, but its influence was still great.

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(CNN) -- By modern-day standards, the U.S. stock market of 1929 was small. The Dow Jones Industrial Average numbered in the low hundreds then, with hundreds of billions of dollars -- compared with hundreds of trillions today -- wrapped up in the market.

But what happened in three "black days" in autumn of 1929 was nothing minor. After an initial downturn on October 24, called "Black Thursday," the market plummeted in two days of panic -- on October 28, "Black Monday," and October 29, "Black Tuesday," the day it completely collapsed. The Dow opened that day at 299.6, but crashed 68.9 points to close at 230.7, losing 23 percent of its value.

start quoteThe nation is marching along a permanently high plateau of prosperity.end quote
-- Yale economist Irving Fisher, five days before "Black Tuesday"
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Reliving "The Great Crash" of 1929 and its impact on the global economy
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By the end of November 1929, investors had lost $100 billion in assets in what was soon dubbed "The Great Crash." Stock prices continued to fall in the coming years, bottoming out on July 8, 1932.

Black Tuesday effectively ended a prosperous era called the Roaring '20s and ushered in the Great Depression.

The crash not only rocked high-rolling investors but financially ruined people of all economic backgrounds. Life savings were wiped out. Banks and businesses collapsed and unemployment soared.

Wall Street and the United States would need years to recover. The calamitous crash precipitated many reforms, including the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission to regulate trading.

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