What’s spooked Wall Street?

The word “panic” was used generously today to describe a big sell-off on Wall St. By the time I made it to the website to view what that meant, the Dow was already down about 300 points. Bad, indeed, but certainly less than I expected when I heard the “p” word.

Matt Nesto of Yahoo Finance noticed it, too:


Three little words within a six paragraph statement released yesterday afternoon by the Federal Reserve have global markets in panic mode. The key phrase “significant downside risks” used by the Fed is an observation that in and of itself is not breaking news. Aside from the forecasters at the White House, no one was expecting an optimistic view on economic growth.

The same could be said for the Fed acknowledging “strains in global financial markets.” Again – who hasn’t noticed that Europe has some issues?

I am not trying to trivialize this sell-off, or suggest anything other than (my longstanding) angst for the US and global economies. I am trying to draw a line between selling and panicking. When basically every market and asset class in the world drops 3% to 10% (with exception to Treasuries and the US dollar), it suggests that something major just caught the market by surprise.

The experts tells us not to pay attention to daily swings in the Dow 30 industrials, but there we are day after day, hanging on what it’s doing.

The Dow, as I write this, is down 419 points. I’m ruined. Worst it’s ever been. Panic, indeed. The Dow stands at 10,697.69. You’d have to go all the way back to August 10 to find a lower point.

If it closes that low, it will be the lowest the Dow has closed since one year ago tomorrow, when the recovery seemed to be holding, things were looking up, and our cups seemed half full.

  • Jim Shapiro

    Bob -

    “I’m ruined. Worst it’s ever been. Panic, indeed.”

    Cash out and put it all in pork bellies. That’s what I did, and I’m living large at the beach. ( Or was it platinum? Either way, I’m sure it was a commodity that begins with P.)

  • mb

    Serves you right, for having all your $ in the Wall Street basket.

    You’ve started a new catchphrase…

  • Heather

    Jim, I think the word you’re looking for is…

    PLASTICS.

  • matt

    There is some importance to todays level because we are testing technical support levels. If we hold above 1110 on the S&P, which we held 3 times in August everything is good. The next support level after that is about 1020 so we could could look at another 9% down taking us the 2010 lows.

    I am not a huge stock wonk but I don’t think you hit support levels too many times before they give, there is an animal spirit that holds. Given the number of bad news colored balls in the old bingo hopper vs the good news colored balls I am thinking we are going to head further down.

    As always, I am just glad I am not rich to get hurt by this (also don’t have to worry about Obama’s tax hikes, dating Kardashians, or wearing white after Labor day).

  • Jim Shapiro

    Heather – And here’s to you. :-)

    Matt – When you’re REALLY rich, you can where whatever damn color you want.(Steve Jobs likes black.)

  • Jim Shapiro

    Oops. Those damn homophones Let’s see if I can recover here. Here goes: And you can WEAR it WHEREVER you want!