Supposedly this is a Chinese curse and although it's origins are obscure it still remains an apt way to worry and confound those who cross you. Indeed we are living in interesting times and with the global economic system facing the possibility of melt down you can't but help think of similar events in the past. There is a sense of eerie familiarity when one reads about failing banks, unsound lending policies, and government bail outs (click here to read the Guardian's take on all this).
Of course, the Great depression in the 1930's which was triggered by a Wall Street crash on Black Tuesday, October 29th, 1929 is the most obvious precedent but I'm also reminded of the stock market crisis that hit Asian markets on 27th October, 1997. Whilst that did not have a huge effect on the average European or North American consumer there were countries in South East Asia which were as badly effected by this as America had been during the 30's according to the historian Eric Hobsbawm in The New Century .
Just one last thing, many great stock market crashes happen, it seems in October.
* Stock Market Crash of 1929 - The Dow falls a total of 23% for October 28 and 29; then makes a sharp 12.84% rebound on the 30th. However, over the next several years the stock market fell dramatically.
* Black Monday, October 19, 1987 and October 20 - The Dow suffers the biggest percentage loss in recorded stock market history on October 19 and initially continues its plunge on the 20th. The markets rally sharply in the afternoon and the Dow posts its first triple-digit gain in its history.