JSE
The JSE building in Sandton. Photo: Elvira Wood
  • The coronavirus and subsequent oil price crash have triggered the biggest global market crisis since 2008.
  • The JSE’s all-share index on Monday and Thursday suffered two of its biggest crashes ever .
  • The biggest crash - so far - was on Black Monday, in 1987. 
  • For more stories visit Business Insider South Africa.

The coronavirus and subsequent oil price crash have triggered the biggest global market crisis since 2008, and the JSE has not been spared.

It gave up 15% in four days, and also housed this week’s worst-performing stock across all emerging markets: Sasol, which lost a large chunk of its value this week.

According to data compiled by the market information platform TimBukOne, the JSE’s all-share index on Monday and Thursday already suffered two of its biggest crashes ever this week.

Here are some of the worst performing days in stock market history over the past four decades: 

-11.7% 20 October 1987. Black Monday. 

This was the biggest crash ever – it followed a 23% loss in a single session on Wall Street. The massive slump came after a five-year-long bull market in the US, which saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average triple. The US central bank started hiking interest rates, which cooled the economy and there were fears that the market was overvalued. The introduction of computerised trading added to the volatility. Automatic selling caused stocks to trade down fast.

Other trading days in 1987 also counted as some of the worst ever on the JSE:

  • -8.2% on 17 April
  • -7.5% on 4 November
  • -7.2% on 5 November 
  • -6.5% on 23 October 
  • -6.2% on 26 October 

-11.2%  28 October 1997. Asian financial crisis.

A financial crisis started in Thailand in July 1997 after it devalued its currency. Previously it was pegged to the US dollar. Investors starting to withdraw their money in emerging markets, which caused a meltdown worldwide.

-10.6% 16 October 1989. ‘Friday the 13th Mini-Crash’.

This short-lived correction was blamed on computerised selling, which was triggered by a failed buyout deal to take over United Airlines on Friday 13 October 1998. The full impact of the resultant Wall Street crash was felt on the Monday on the JSE. 

-9.7% 12 March 2020. Coronavirus crisis.

While the market has been under pressure due to the coronavirus crisis, which paralysed Chinese manufacturing and global transport, the oil crash on ‘Black Monday’ 9 March 2020 fuelled panic. Oil plunged more than 30% in a couple of hours after Saudi Arabia lowered its oil prices – presumably to undercut its competitors, particularly Russia – which refused to lower output under a proposed Opec deal – and the US shale gas industry.

On Monday 9 March, the JSE's all share index lost more than 6% - which also ranks among the biggest 14 falls. 

-7.4% 1 April 1988. Sanctions hit SA.

Economic sanctions against the apartheid government started to hit hard, with global banks exiting the country and South Africa struggling to pay its international debts. 1988 marked the start of the longest recession in South Africa’s history. 

-7.4% 17 April 2000. Tech bubble bursts.

In the five years to March 2000, tech stocks on the Nasdaq index rose by 400% amid massive enthusiasm about the internet and wild speculation. The bubble burst in 2000, and two years later the Nasdaq was 80% lower.

-7.3% 6 October 2008. The global financial crisis.

The housing boom in the US gave rise to a subprime lending crisis: people who couldn't afford it, were given large mortgages. These dud mortgages were then sold off to banks through intricate financial instruments, which triggered a massive confidence crisis in the financial sector, eventually pushing it to the brink of collapse.

A number of other days also saw huge losses: 15 October (-7%), 24 October (-6%) and 29 September  (-6%).

-6.6% on 12 January, and -6.2% on 26 August 1998. Russian crisis

1998 was a nervous time for the investors, especially in emerging market countries. The Russian government defaulted on its debts, and was forced to devalue the ruble.

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