What is a Flash Crash?

A Flash Crash is an extreme market event in which prices suddenly drop dramatically within a very short time period, often followed by a rapid recovery. It was first observed on the stock exchange in 2010 and is usually attributed to high-frequency trading algorithms or other forms of automated trading. In the wake of a flash crash, investors may experience large losses as well as confusion and uncertainty about what has happened. The event has been studied extensively by financial regulators in order to understand how it can be prevented from occurring again in the future.

Flash crashes can have serious economic implications and can severely damage investor confidence. As such, market regulators around the world are attempting to put measures in place that will help protect investors from the risks associated with this type of event. Examples include increased surveillance of trading activity, limits on the amount of capital a trader is able to employ for trades, and circuit breakers designed to pause or halt trading if prices move too quickly in either direction. These measures are intended to reduce the likelihood of flash crashes while also providing an opportunity for investors to evaluate their positions and make decisions accordingly. Additionally, regulators are working to ensure that flash crashes do not occur in other markets, such as the foreign exchange and commodities markets. The ultimate goal is to create a safer, more reliable environment for all investors.

Flash crashes have created serious financial risks, so it is important for investors to be informed about the potential dangers associated with them. By understanding the causes of these events and taking steps to reduce their likelihood of occurring, investors can protect themselves from losses due to extreme market volatility. Financial advisors can provide guidance on how best to manage one's investments during times of market instability. Additionally, regulations and monitoring tools put in place by governing bodies should help mitigate against future flash crash scenarios. Taking a cautious approach when making investments is always the best way to protect oneself from market risks.

In conclusion, a Flash Crash is an extreme and unpredictable event in which prices suddenly drop dramatically within a very short period of time. It can have serious economic implications and cause investors to suffer large losses. Market regulators around the world are taking steps to reduce the likelihood of flash crashes occurring by implementing measures such as increased surveillance of trading activity, limits on capital employed for trades, and circuit breakers that pause or halt trading when necessary. By being aware of the potential risks associated with these events and taking proactive steps to mitigate them, investors can better protect themselves from financial losses due to extreme market volatility.

Simplified Example

A flash crash is like a rollercoaster that suddenly drops unexpectedly. Imagine you are on a rollercoaster and everything is going smoothly, and suddenly the roller coaster drops unexpectedly, making you feel scared and surprised. Similarly, in the stock market, a flash crash is a sudden, sharp decline in the prices of stocks, commodities, or currencies. It happens quickly and unexpectedly, and it can be caused by a number of factors, like a large sell-off or a computer malfunction. It can make investors feel scared and surprised, just like how you would feel on a rollercoaster that suddenly drops.

History of the Term "Flash Crash"

The term "flash crash" is thought to have originated in the early 2010s, particularly around the time of the May 6, 2010 flash crash in the U.S. stock market. Coined to characterize the abrupt and substantial decline in stock prices during this event, many attributed the crash to the influence of algorithmic trading and high-frequency trading (HFT) firms. The phrase quickly gained prominence in both media and financial circles and has since become a widely recognized term used to depict any sudden and significant drop in the price of a security or asset class, occurring across various markets, including stocks, bonds, and cryptocurrencies.


On May 6, 2010, the Dow Jones Industrial Average experienced a sudden plunge referred to as the “Flash Crash”, erasing nearly $1 trillion from US equity markets in less than half an hour.

In August 2015, the Chinese stock market crash of 2015 saw over $5 trillion wiped off global equity markets after China's Shanghai Composite index dropped 8.5%.

On May 1st 2019, a flash crash occurred in South Korea when Kospi stocks dropped by 10% in just eight minutes, wiping out nearly $10 billion from the nation's total market capitalization.

  • Automated Market Maker: A decentralized platform that uses algorithms to determine the price of assets and provide liquidity to the market.

  • Financial Action Task Force: An intergovernmental organization established in 1989 to combat money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats to the integrity of the international financial system.