The Crash: Are Computers to Blame?

If big investors are determined to panic, computers can sure help. A few keystrokes into a broker's desktop computer can trigger the sale of thousands of shares of, say, 500 different companies. Such "program trades" may have played a role in making Black Monday the worst day in Wall Street history. As one Chicago broker joked, the difference between 1929 and 1987 is that last week, it was the computers that jumped out the windows.

But how much are the computers to blame? That issue stirs a great deal of confusion. The term program trading is misleading: it derives not from...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!