On October 19, 1987, the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost just over 22 percent of its value, dropping 503 points on the day that would become known as Black Monday. The crash that began in Asia and swept its way around the globe is still the worst day in market history in terms of percentage decline.
But one wealthy man avoided the calamities that occurred 30 years ago today, at least by his own telling. “I sold all my stock over the last month,” Trump told The Wall Street Journal at the time. In a prescient, albeit vague prediction, Trump also added, “I think the market is going to go down further [because] there are so many things wrong with the country.” He was certainly wrong on that score — it took the Dow 15 months to recover its Black Monday losses. It has risen more than ten-fold in the years since.
If Trump’s unlikely claim of completely extracting himself from the stock market ahead of its worst day seems like just the kind of unsubstantiated lie he’d throw around to get the papers to portray him as a financial whiz, it should. Despite his claim to the contrary, Trump actually lost $22 million on Black Monday because he still held shares in the department store Alexander’s, biographer Gwenda Blair notes.
But Trump quickly adopted his version of events as the truth. Just a couple months after the market nosedived he appeared on the cover of People magazine, which repeated the claim that he got out of the market before the crash and posed a question that must have seemed absurd at the time: Might Trump, who’s “bought everything else,” make a run for the White House?