What caused the Black Monday crash of 1987? Analysts are often unable to identify a single trigger or smoking gun that caused the crash.
Sniper points to a sharp run-up in short-term interest rates in the 3 months prior to the crash.
Valuations were also at extreme readings, with PEmax (price-earnings based on the highest earnings to-date) near 20, close to its Black Friday high from the crash of 1929.
Often overlooked is the fact that the S&P 500 was testing resistance at its previous highs between 700 and 750 from the 1960s and 70s (chart from macrotrends).
A combination of these three factors may have been sufficient to tip the market into a dramatic reversal.
Are we facing a similar threat today?
Short-term rates are rising but at 40 basis points over the last 4 months, compared to 170 bp in 1987, there is not much cause for concern.
PEmax, however, is now at a precipitous 26.8, second only to the Dotcom bubble of 1999/2000.
While the index is in blue sky territory, with no resistance in sight, there is an important psychological barrier ahead at 3000.
Conclusion: This does not look like a repetition of 1987. But investors who ignore the extreme valuation warning may be surprised at how fast the market can reverse (as in 1987) from such extremes.