1928, a stock market boom had begun. The stock market boom changed the way investors viewed the stock market. No longer was the stock market for long-term investment. Rather, in 1928, the stock market had become a place where everyday people truly believed that they could become rich. Interest in the stock market reached a fevered pitch. Stocks had become the talk of every town. Discussions about stocks could be heard everywhere, from parties to barber shops.
As newspapers reported stories of ordinary people like chauffeurs, maids, and teachers making millions off the stock market, the fervor to buy stocks grew exponentially. When someone did not have the money to pay the full price of stocks, they could buy stocks "on margin." Buying stocks on margin means that the buyer would put down some of his own money, but the rest he would borrow from a broker. In the 1920s, the buyer only had to put down 10 to 20 percent of his own money and thus borrowed 80 to 90 percent of the cost of the stock.
Buying on margin could be very risky. If the price of stock fell lower than the loan amount, the broker would likely issue a "margin call," which means that the buyer must come up with the cash to pay back his loan immediately. In the 1920s, many speculators bought stocks on margin. Confident in what seemed a never-ending rise in prices, many of these speculators neglected to seriously consider the risk they were