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Victor Niederhoffer Thinks He Caused The Stock Market Crash Of 1997

Victor Niederhoffer Thinks He Caused The Stock Market Crash Of 1997

Victor NiederhofferCourtesy of Courtney Comstock at Clusterstock 

Victor Niederhoffer thinks he caused the stock market crash of October 27, 1997, when the DOW dropped over 550 points.

In an interview with Slate Magazine, Nierhoffer explains his theory:

They all knew that if I was hurting in one market, I’d have to liquidate in the other markets.

Whenever someone’s in trouble, it circulates around Wall Street; you’d be amazed how just one small fish is enough to stop the wheels of commerce for long enough to relieve that person of his funds. And then the market goes back to doing exactly what it was going to do beforehand.

I still think that the crash of Oct. 27, 1997, was basically due to brokers running my position against me, knowing that I was on the ropes. The market had its greatest drop in the previous 10 years that day. And then the next day, once they were able to force me out, it went up more than it dropped.

Let’s compare his hypothesis with what some other financial experts think caused the crash.

Bernanke

Bernanke says that October is just a crazy month for the markets.

“Classically, October has always been the month for financial problems,” Mr. Bernanke told the WSJ in 2007

Krugman

The Asian markets were overvalued and the bubble burst - (Urbi Garay’s paper on the crisis)

Malcolm Gladwell

He sold a very large number of options on the S. & P. index, taking millions of dollars from other traders in exchange for promising to buy a basket of stocks from them at current prices, if the market ever fell.

It was an unhedged bet, or what was called on Wall Street a "naked put," meaning that he bet everyone on one outcome: he bet in favor of the large probability of making a small amount of money, and against the small probability of losing a large amount of money-and he lost. On October 27, 1997, the market plummeted eight per cent, and all of the many, many people who had bought those options from Niederhoffer came calling all at once, demanding that he buy back their stocks at pre-crash prices.

He ran through a hundred and thirty million dollars — his cash reserves, his savings, his other stocks — and when his broker came and asked for still more he didn’t have it. In a day, one of the most successful hedge funds in America was wiped out. Niederhoffer had to shut down his firm. - New Yorker

At least Niederhoffer’s offering up new ideas!


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