If a stockbroker friend of yours isn't in especially good spirits right now, please understand. October has arrived.
For the average citizen, October has a lot going for it: the World Series, colorful foliage in much of the country, Halloween.But as even the most casual follower of finance knows, October has been witness to a disproportionate amount of disasters in the stock market.
For starters, there was the Great Crash in 1929. Back-to-back selloffs in the late 1970s came to be known as the "October massacres."
And then, of course, there was October 1987, when stocks endured a collapse that culminated in a record 22.6 percent drop in the Dow Jones average of 30 industrials on Black Monday, Oct. 19.
This year, the market begins the month still bearing a lot of scars from that rout. Trading volume, and morale, have both been running at low levels lately on Wall Street.
And with all the attention the first anniversary of Black Monday is certain to get, it is almost a foregone conclusion that stocks are going to be tough merchandise to move for the next several weeks.
Just why October should hold so many pitfalls for the market is not known. Statistical studies in the past also have focused on May, June and September as trouble spots for investors.
To many an observer, most calendar "tendencies" of this type are no more than random phenomena lacking any predictive value for the future.
Some market-watchers who describe themselves as "contrarians" suggest that the crash memories haunting Wall Street this month may actually produce a chance to buy stocks at bargain prices.
If you want to pick up stocks cheap, the old argument goes, you need to buy them when nobody else wants them.
"The market is suffering from buying failure, not liquidation (of stocks)," contends Gene Jay Seagle, an analyst at Gruntal & Co. "It is thoroughly liquidated already."
Given the current degree of pessimism, says the investment advisory service Market Logic, "the possibility of a buying panic that could follow an abrupt easing of the Federal Reserve's current tight-money policy exceeds the likelihood of a replay of last fall's plunge."