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Strategist Jim Paulsen says another crash like Black Monday is 'possible'

  • The stock market could crash again like it did 30 years ago on Black Monday, strategist Jim Paulsen, told CNBC on Thursday.
  • "I think we're going to slow it [the next crash] down ... but I certainly think we'll probably see some more eye-catching days," he said.
  • "Certainly there are many things you can point to now, whether it's the volatility of markets or ETFs, that might be the catalyst for the next crash," said Scott Nations of NationsShares.

The stock market could crash again like it did 30 years ago on Black Monday, Jim Paulsen, Leuthold Group chief investment strategist, told CNBC on Thursday.

On Oct. 19, 1987, the New York Stock Exchange had one of its most dramatic trading days in its 225-year history.

It suffered its largest single-day percentage loss (22 percent) and its largest one-day point loss up until that day (508 points).

Since then, the Dow industrials have gained 1,025 percent, and U.S. equities have been on an almost uninterrupted bull run for more than eight years. Just this year, the market has jumped more than 14 percent, and it's up more than 280 percent from its crisis lows in March 2009.

Still, that doesn't mean there can't be trouble ahead.

"I think it's possible," Paulsen said, referring to another stock market crash.

"I think we're going to slow it down because of the circuit breakers and things of that nature, but I certainly think we'll probably see some more eye-catching days. Maybe not quite the magnitude of what we had in 1987," he told CNBC's "Power Lunch."

Jim Paulsen
Cameron Costa | CNBC
Jim Paulsen

The markets instituted circuit breakers as a direct result of Black Monday. These kick in when the S&P 500 Index drops 7 percent (Level 1), 13 percent (Level 2), and 20 percent (Level 3) from the prior day's close.

Even with the addition of this trading curb, CNBC contributor Ron Insana also sees a market collapse as a possibility.

"I think every time we have product innovation, we have to worry to some extent about market structure. We'll have more of these [crashes]. … These are periodic events," Insana said on "Power Lunch." "This time, it might be ETFs, it might be some other vehicle that precipitates and exacerbates the selling," he added.

Insana warns a potential catalyst for the next crash might be a rapid rise in interest rates or a plummet in the value of the dollar.

Scott Nations, president and chief investment officer of NationsShares, has a different idea for what might provoke the next sort of Black Monday.

"There are almost too many [catalysts on the horizon] to mention. Obviously, North Korea would be at the very top of the list. ... Certainly there are many things you can point to now, whether it's the volatility of markets or ETFs, that might be the catalyst for the next crash," he said on "Power Lunch."

Other analysts, including Quattro Securities floor trader Peter Tuchman, expect the market to keep climbing.

"I'm confident that the market has strong foundations, and it just feels like it's going to edge higher," Tuchman told "Power Lunch."

"Given all that potential anxiety [from tensions with North Korea, the administration in Washington, and the hurricanes], this market is at record highs. So I'm not fearful of it at this point," he said.

U.S. equities fell on Thursday following a record-setting session in which the Dow Jones industrial average closed above 23,000 for the first time.

The Dow pulled back 20 points and briefly fell more than 100 points.

— The Associated Press and CNBC's Jeff Cox and Fred Imbert contributed to this report.