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The Friday the 13th mini-crash refers to the stock market crash that occurred on Friday, October 13, 1989. The crash was apparently caused by a reaction to a news story of a $6.75 billion leveraged buyout deal for UAL Corporation, the parent company of United Airlines, which broke down. When the UAL deal fell through, it helped trigger the collapse of the junk bond market. The UAL deal unraveled because the Association of Flight Attendants pulled out of the deal when management, in negotiations over an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) designed to fund the leveraged buyout, refused to agree to terms equivalent to those negotiated with other labor groups.[1]

The close

Moments after the UAL deal fell through, the indices began their plunge. By the time the closing bell rang, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 190.58 points, or 6.91 percent, to 2,569.26. The NASDAQ Composite shed 14.90 points, or 3.09 percent, to 467.30, and the S&P 500 Index fell 21.74 points, or 6.12 percent, to 333.65. The Dow Jones Transportation Average fell 78.05 (5.26%) on the 13th, and fell another 102.04 (7.26%) on the 16th for a total decline of 12.13%. The major indices had closed at all-time highs as recently as Monday, October 9.


Many investors were left stunned. Since most market participants blame the UAL deal as the culprit, survey researcher William Feltus and Robert Shiller, the author of Irrational Exuberance, conducted a telephone survey of 101 market professionals in the business days following the crash asking if they had heard about the UAL news before or after the crash. 36% surveyed said they heard about it before the losses set in, and 53% said afterwards.

The market professionals also believed that the UAL story was just an attention grabber, with traders just trying to find a reason to sell. Fifty percent believed that was the reason while 30 percent believed the news would reduce future takeovers.[2]


  1. ^ Borer, David A. (1995). "Doing Battle: Flight Attendant Labor Relations in '90s". in Darryl Jenkins ed.. Handbook of Airline Economics. Aviation Week Grp., Div. of McGraw-Hill. pp. 563–566. ISBN 0-07-607087-5.  
  2. ^ Harvard International Review - Exuberant Reporting Media and Misinformation in the Markets


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