The Roaring Twenties, the decade that led up to the Crash, was a time of wealth and excess. Despite the dangers of speculation, many believed that the stock market would continue to rise indefinitely. The market had been on a six-year run that saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average increase in value fivefold, peaking at 381.17 on September 3, 1929. Shortly before the crash, economist Irving Fisher famously proclaimed, "Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau." The optimism and financial gains of the great bull market were shaken on "Black Thursday", October 24, 1929, when share prices on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) abruptly fell. In the days leading up to the crash, the market was severely unstable. Periods of selling and high volumes of trading were interspersed with brief periods of rising prices and recovery. Economist and author Jude Wanniski later correlated these swings with the prospects for passage of the Smoot–Hawley Tariff Act, which was then being debated in Congress. On October 24 ("Black Thursday"), the market lost 11% of its value at the opening bell on very heavy trading. Several leading Wall Street bankers met to find a solution to the panic and chaos on the trading floor. The meeting included Thomas W. Lamont, acting head of Morgan Bank; Albert Wiggin, head of the Chase National Bank; and Charles E. Mitchell, president of the National City Bank of New York. They chose Richard Whitney, vice president of the Exchange, to act on their behalf. With the bankers' financial resources behind him, Whitney placed a bid to purchase a large block of shares in U.S. Steel at a price well above the current market. As traders watched, Whitney then placed similar bids on other "blue chip" stocks. This tactic was similar to one that ended the Panic of 1907. It succeeded in halting the slide. The Dow Jones Industrial Average recovered, closing with it down only 6.38 points for the day; however, unlike 1907, the respite was only temporary. The trading floor of the New York Stock Exchange in 1930, just six months after the crash of 1929 Over the weekend, the events were covered by the newspapers across the United States. On October 28, "Black Monday", more investors decided to get out of the market, and the slide continued with a record loss in the Dow for the day of 38 points, or 13%. The next day, "Black Tuesday", October 29, 1929, about 16 million shares were traded, and the Dow lost an additional 30 points, or 12%. The volume of stocks traded on October 29, 1929 was a record that was not broken for nearly 40 years. Author Richard M. Salsman wrote that "on October 29—amid rumors that U.S. President Herbert Hoover would not veto the pending Hawley-Smoot Tariff bill—stock prices crashed even further". William C. Durant joined with members of the Rockefeller family and other financial giants to buy large quantities of stocks in order to demonstrate to the public their confidence in the market, but their efforts failed to stop the large decline in prices. The ticker did not stop running until about 7:45 p.m. that evening. The market had lost over $30 billion in the space of two days.
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