October 19, 1987 – Going down in the history books as Black Monday, it was the day Wall Street took a tumble. Some 500 points dropped before closing time. The final tally was slow in coming because the computers were struggling to get caught up. Considered the worst stock market crash since 1929, worse to many because there was so much more money on the line in 1987 than there was in 1929. Analysts said this sudden drop affected nearly every investor in the world; some worse than others. Pension funds were wiped out – 401K’s were badly hit – many who had invested life savings were seeing those savings disappear. The situation caused the Pacific Stock Exchange to close early and the White House was keeping a watchful eye on the events, trying to put the best face on things, saying the underlying aspects of the economy were sound. While the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission voiced concern over the plunge in the Stock Market. Still, leaders of the Investment community, the chairman of the Federal Reserve and the New York Stock Exchange all echoed the White House view, citing the longest peacetime expansion in history,employment was up, manufacturing output was up, the trade deficit was improving and there was no evidence of a resurgence of inflation – so all agreed that despite the 500 point drop, the economy was strong. All eyes were on October 20th.
Meanwhile, the U.S. hit back at Iran in the Persian Gulf with Navy ships destroying one Iranian oil platform and seized another, destroying weapons and taking intelligence documents. The actions were in response to an earlier attack on a Kuwaiti tanker flying a U.S. flag. Sixteen people were hurt in that missile attack. The Reagan administration said it hoped that was the end of it and that Iran would realize that any attacks it may stage would be met with a considered U.S. reaction. Tehran was angry, reaction on Capitol Hill was generally favorable and Moscow condemned the attack as “military adventurism”.
And that’s a little of what happened, this October 19th in 1987 as reported by CBS News with continuing reports and updates.