The Wall Street Crash of 1929 is the stock-market crash that occurred in late October, 1929 when share prices on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) collapsed. After the crash, the world sank into the Great Depression. The two events are inextricably linked in the people's minds.
Not only was the event of such a magnitude that it is unforgettable, the fact that economists were unable to predict it is in itself of great note. Although some noted economists, particularly those of the Austrian School were aware of the situation, their warnings went unheeded. Debate over the causes of the crash and this worldwide depression still continue, as economists and others seek not only to understand the past but to learn from them and thus to avoid a repetition of history. While safety measures have been instituted by the New York Stock Exchange and other significant exchanges to prevent a crash of such magnitude, it is change in the attitudes and actions of those involved in the world of finance and business that is needed to ensure that the suffering resulting from massive unemployment and loss of savings can be avoided in the future.
Human behavior is not simply rational, although people are adept at using reasoning to make decisions. What drives human beings is emotional desire, which can be self-centered, such as in greed and desire for authority, or can be altruistic, as when one sacrifices for the sake of others and for the good of society as a whole. When events such as the Crash of 1929 occur, they are the result of uncontrolled selfish actions on the part of a few, combined with their continued selfish and ignorant acts attempting to cover up their mistakes. When such behavior is combined with panic on the part of the public, who are ignorant of what has actually been taking place informed only by the mass media also acting out of self-interest, and act out of desperate self-preservation, the result is disaster. Today, with advances in communications technology, there is less ignorance. However, unless the internal attitudes of people in positions of authority and power change toward regarding the purpose of the whole as a higher priority than their individual gains, no economic system is secure.