The worst stock exchange crashes

The spectre of a stock exchange crash hangs over the world on mounting worries over the economic hit from the coronavirus.

Defined as a sudden and precipitous drop in share values, major European bourses have plunged by between 25 and 30 percent since mid-February.

Below is a reminder of the major crashes in history:

European bourses have plunged by between 25 and 30 percent since mid-February.

1637: Tulip crash 

Exotic tulips are commonly viewed as the first speculative bubble of modern history. Prices soared for sought after versions of the flower in The Netherlands at the beginning of the 17th century before the tulip bubble bursts in 1637. Prices plunged to a tenth of their previous value.

1720: Speculation in Britain 

Stock exchanges crash in Britain in 1720 after the speculative bubble bursts leading to the bankruptcies of The South Sea Company and the Law Bank.

1882: French crash 

Stock exchanges in Paris and Lyon crash and France plunges into an economic crisis following the collapse of the bank Union Generale, with several foreign exchange agents following in its wake.

1929: Wall Street 

On Thursday, October 24, the Dow Jones index loses more than 22 percent of its value at the opening of the session, but recoups ground to finish 2.1 percent down. It again falls by 13 percent on October 28 and by 12 percent on the 29th. This crisis stokes speculation on the stock markets and marks the beginning of the Great Depression in the United States and a world economic crisis.

1987: First of infotech era 

On October 19, 1987, Wall Street crashes. As a result of a large trade deficit in the US and a hike of interest rates by the German Central Bank, the Dow Jones index loses 22.6 percent in a single day. Other stock exchanges around the world follow suit. It is the first crash of the information technology era.

1998: Russian crash 

In August 1998, the ruble loses 60 percent of its value in 11 days, including 17.13 percent on the 27th. Russia goes through an economic and monetary crisis, in part linked to the Asian financial crisis in 1997.

In the US, the Long Term Capital Management (LTCM) hedge fund is rescued by the US Federal Reserve after suffering crippling losses on highly speculative investments following the Asian financial crisis.

2000: Internet bubble 

The deflation of the bubble. After a record 5,048.62 points on March 10, the US tech-heavy Nasdaq index falls by 27 percent during the first two weeks of April and by 39.3 percent over the year. This fall has a domino effect on all markets linked to the new internet economy.

2002: Accounting scandals 

The accounting scandals at US energy giant Enron and telecommunications group Worldcom disrupt stock exchanges around the world in 2002.

2008: Subprime crisis 

The consequences of the so-called US “subprime” crisis, which revolved around risky mortgage-backed financial securities in the United States, spreads to financial markets around the world. From January to October, 2008, the main global stock markets lose from 30 to 50 percent of their value, with losses peaking during several sessions in October.

2011: Debt crisis 

Financial markets panic after the downgrading on August 5, 2011 of US debt, after world stock exchanges see their worst week since the 2008 crisis. The spectre of a crash hangs over global stock exchanges, which are hit by the collapse of the banking sector and rumours of a worsening debt situation in the eurozone.

2015: Chinese crash 

After easy access to borrowed money leads to a debt-fuelled bubble, in mid-2015 in China the benchmark Shanghai index plummets by 40 percent over several weeks jolting global markets.