Friday, January 16, 2009

Bear Markets & Banker Suicide

By all accounts, in the immediate aftermath of the Black Thursday market crash of 1929, the sidewalks of Wall Street were littered with the bodies of Wall Street bankers. Ruined financiers were jumping to their deaths because of their massive losses in the market they had trusted -- their faith in both capitalism and existence simultaneously squandered. The  suicides were framed as a sort of financial morality tale, and the most horrific and enduring symbol of the age.  

So ever since the stock market took its recent epic plunge, I have wondered -- where are all the bodies? October's crash has been universally compared with the crash of 1929. The market dropped more than 20 percent in seven days. So what is the difference between the two crashes? The answer -- not much. It seems that the banker suicides from Black Friday are nothing more than urban legend. According to Slate, only 4 in every 100 suicides in 1929 were linked to the stock market crash, and only two of these took place on Wall Street. 

This begs the question -- why has the myth of banker suicides persisted? 

1 comment:

  1. it's wishful thinking, right? people hope the bankers will punish themselves since they're notreally getting punished by anyone else.

    ps check out the latest at