Despite market plunge, investors take risks

May 7, 2010 12:57:56 AM PDT
Wall Street took a nose dive, but some courageous Bay Area investors managed to make some money.

The plunge on the market on Thursday wasn't enough to trigger a halt in trading. In fact, after 2:30 p.m. eastern time, it stops only when the market drops by 20 percent or more.

And although the New York Stock Exchange now says there were no issues or errors, the Nasdaq has cancelled all trades on stocks that either gained or fell more than 60 percent during the freefall.

Some courageous investors may have turned a profit today.

For some, there is only one way to describe today's stock market plunge. Oakland stock broker Neil Clunie calls it the worst day of the year -- so far.

"We were watching the ticker drop off the face of the earth. It was really scary for a second," he said.

And to brokers like Clunie, a second was about how long the wild ride felt like it lasted, as the Dow nose dived nearly 1,000 points in just 30 minutes.

But what was a kick in the gut for some was perfect timing for others.

"I see when the market goes down that much as an opportunity, so I decided to invest," investor Cathy Curtis said.

And that's exactly she did. Curtis noticed the drop minutes before the market rebounded and managed to invest between $300,000 and $400,000.

"I thought, you know what, that's too big of a drop, this is a good time to put some cash to work because I've been waiting to put it to work," Curtis said.

Many people felt today's plunge brought back painful memories from the financial collapse of October 2008, when during a one- week period the Dow plunged more than 1,800 points.

"When Lehman Brothers went bankrupt, sudden panic. All markets stopped. Nobody is offering credit," UC Berkeley professor Stephen Cohen said.

Cohen is the co-director of the Berkeley Roundtable on the International Economy. Whether caused by short-term trader error or long-term fears over Greece's economic troubles as some thought as it happened, he says there's a lesson in today's market plunge.

"That may be the lesson of this. These days, the next short while, the market may not be a game for those with normal or fainted hearts," Sean Randolph, Ph.D. from the Bay Area Economic Council said.

It's more like an irregular heart beat for stock brokers, so much so Clunie had to take a break.

"I'm actually walking around for stress relief right now. I am taking a 15-minute walk break," he said.


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