On September 11, 2001 we experienced the unimaginable: attacks on our soil. It seemed this might
be World War III. We were scared to see anything else in the sky and worried about other attacks at
home. Where were the terroists hiding? Could we experience biological or nuclear attacks? The
financial markets closed for nearly a week and we thought things would never be the same. But,
being Americans, we mourned, we removed the rubble, and we got back to living. The markets
recovered fairly quickly.
Anyone who worked in the financial industry at the time will never forget the beautiful Monday of
October 19, 1987. Back then, we didn’t have online tickers or computers with prices. We had to call
a trading desk to learn about the movement of the market. We could not believe the answers we got.
Our phone didn’t ring off the hook because our clients didn’t have tickers either. They didn’t know
what had happened until they came home form work and turned on the evening news.
That infamous day is now called Black Monday. The Dow dropped more in that single day than it
ever had before, to the tune of 22%! It felt like a crash. It felt like a Depression. But it turned out it
was the failure of some financial instruments that didn’t make good sense in the first place.
Right now, sitting safer at home, we feel anxiety is at even higher levels because we can’t go about
our normal daily routines. And different than that day in 1987, we all know the movement of the
market minute by minute just by pulling out a device in our pocket! So, given that anxiety, it’s hard
to believe this will ever end. But it will end, because it must.
Remember, while the solutions aren’t happening as fast as we want in this world of instant
information, we know that scientists, medical professionals, and epidemiologists are working to find
treatments, therapies, and a vaccine. When? We don’t know. When will the curve flatten? We don’t
know. How long will we social distance? We don’t know. But eventually this will end. And the
world will go back to living. In America, and around the world.
The market will recover and advance. (If history is any guide.) But then there will be another
unimaginable crisis. It’s the nature of the world. It’s the nature of the market and owning what we
need to meet our goals and dreams.
But as much as the other events have moved to the back of our memories, and the markets have
moved back to where they were - and even higher again and again – it’s natural for investors to
believe that this time is different. It’s not. The cause may be different because the cause is always
different. But the pain is the same – and the triumph of overcoming that pain will be the same, too.
The next time we write about a crisis, we will likely reference this one. Eventually, this will feel as
far distant as 1987, or even 9/11. And we will remember once again that the best reaction to a bear
market is no reaction at all.
1 “8 things you need to know about bear markets,” CNBC, https://www.cnbc.com/2015/08/24/8-things-you-need-to-know-aboutbear-
“United States bear market of 2007-2009,” Wikipedia,
“Black Monday (1987)”, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Monday_(1987)