Archive for Friday, September 23, 2011

Dow falls 391 on worldwide fears about economy

September 23, 2011


Investors began giving in to fears Thursday that a global recession is already under way, and stock markets shuddered around the world. Selling started in Asia, picked up speed in Europe and sent Wall Street near its worst finish of the year.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 391 points and at one point was down more than 500, a return to the volatility that gripped the market this summer.

One financial indicator after another showed that investors are losing hope that the global economy can keep growing. The price of oil and metals such as copper, which depend on economic demand, fell sharply. Traders bought Treasury bonds and the dollar for safety.

FedEx, a company that ships so many goods it is considered a barometer of the U.S. economy, had to lower its earnings forecast for the year because customers are putting off purchases of electronics and other gadgets from China.

The Dow fell 391.01 points, or 3.5 percent, and closed at 10,733.83. The selling was not just steep but broad: Nineteen stocks on the New York Stock Exchange fell for every one that rose. At one point, the Dow was down more than 500 points.

“Markets rely on confidence and certainty. Right now there is neither,” said John Canally, an economic strategist at LPL Financial, an investment firm in Boston.

It was the second consecutive rout in the stock market since Wednesday afternoon, when the Federal Reserve announced a change in strategy for fighting the economic slowdown — a bid to lower long-term interest rates and get people and companies to spend more money.

Economic news was bad around the world. A closely watched survey in Europe indicated a recession could be on the way there, and a manufacturing survey suggested a slowdown in China, which has been one of the hottest economies.

“The probability of going back into recession is higher now than at any point in the recovery,” said Tim Quinlan, an economist at Wells Fargo. He put his odds of a recession at 35 percent.

Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, said the world economy was “entering a dangerous phase.” She told an annual meeting of the IMF and World Bank that nations need credible plans to get their debt under control.

In the United States, investors poured money into American government debt, which they see as less risky than stocks even as the nation wrestles with how to tame its long-term budget problems.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note hit 1.71 percent — the lowest since the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis started keeping daily records half a century ago. It was 3.66 percent as recently as February, when the economic forecast was brighter.

Yields fall as investors buy bonds and send their prices higher. Small yields are a sign that investors are just looking for a safe place to park their cash.

“They want to get their money back,” said Guy LeBas, chief fixed income strategist at Janney Capital Markets. “How much they earn is secondary.”

Besides U.S. bonds, investors bought American dollars. The dollar rose to an eight-month high against the euro because of fears that Europe, staggered by debt, will bear the worst of a global downturn.

The Dow almost matched its lowest close of the year, 10,719 on Aug. 10. The stock market was seized by volatility last month, and at one point the Dow strung together four consecutive days of 400-point moves up or down.

In a sign of what a rocky year it has been for the stock market, Thursday’s decline isn’t even close to the biggest in 2011. The Dow fell 634 points on Aug. 8, 519 points on Aug. 10 and 512 points on Aug. 4.

It would have to fall 485 more points to reach the traditional definition of a bear market — a 20 percent decline. The Dow was at 12,810 on April 29.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index, a broader measure of the stock market, and the Nasdaq composite, which is more heavily weighted with technology stocks, both fell more than 3 percent for the day.

To get the economy going, President Barack Obama has proposed a $447 billion package of tax cuts, public works projects and benefits for the unemployed, but it faces major opposition in the Republican-controlled House.

While the market was falling Thursday, the president stood in front of an aging bridge that connects Ohio and Kentucky. He exhorted Republicans: “Help us put this country back to work. Pass this jobs bill right away.”

Top Republicans in Congress accused Obama of trying to score political points. If Congress fails to pass the jobs bill, it would leave the Fed action this week as the only major new initiative designed to help the economy.

The Fed announced Wednesday that it would shuffle $400 billion of its own holdings in hopes of reducing interest rates on long-term loans. The plan is known as Operation Twist, a nod to a similar approach taken by the Fed during the time of Chubby Checker in the early 1960s.

The central bank hopes that if people and businesses are able to borrow money more cheaply, they will spend throughout the economy and give it a lift.

Still, the Fed announcement troubled investors because it came with a bleak assessment of the future. The Fed said it sees “significant downside risks to the economic outlook,” including volatility in overseas markets.

“In financial markets, the thinking seems to be: If the Fed is worried, the rest of us ought to be really worried,” said Brian Gendreau, senior investment strategist at Cetera Financial Group.

Economists say the Fed action may help, but probably not much.

“Counting on the Fed to get us out of this is a mistake,” said Uri Landesman, president of Platinum Partners, a hedge fund.

The price of commodities like oil and metals dropped steeply because investors worried that demand for them would fall if the world economy keeps slowing or falls into recession again.

Oil dropped more than $5 a barrel to $80.51, its lowest settling price since Aug. 9. The selling reflected concerns that world demand for oil will fall if the economy slows.

“This is just sudden and strong confirmation that the economy is not improving,” said Michael Lynch, president of Strategic Energy & Economic Research. “Energy demand is going to be very poor.”

The price of silver fell 9.6 percent. And gold fell 3.7 percent. Earlier this summer, gold set one record high after another. Investors wanted it both as a safe place for their money and to cash in on what seemed an unstoppable run. Gold, which was as high as $1,907 two weeks ago, finished at $1,741.70.

Stocks fell sharply even though the New York Stock Exchange executed a rule designed to smooth trading. The exchange invoked Rule 48, which limits how much information is released about stock trades.

Stock volatility rose anyway. The VIX, an index that measures investor fear, rose about 11 percent to 41.35, double the normal level.

It’s common for stocks to move dramatically after the Fed makes a big announcement. But the number of trades that can be made instantly has also gone up in recent years, causing big swings to happen more quickly. Computer systems are programmed to analyze charts, capitalize on tiny changes in price and execute trades with no human intervention.

“These major moves are much more compressed, time-wise, than in the past,” Landesman said. “A 5 percent move can now happen in a couple of minutes as opposed to a week or two.”

Some analysts called the heavy selling an overreaction.

“The facts show we are not in a recession, and we are not borderline recession,” Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist with Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi, wrote in a report Thursday.

The U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 0.7 percent in the first half of this year, the slowest growth since the end of the Great Recession in June 2009. It would take much healthier growth, 4 or 5 percent, to bring unemployment down significantly.

The government reported Thursday that fewer Americans applied for unemployment benefits last week. But the decline wasn’t nearly enough to raise any real hope that the job market is getting better.

Asian stocks were hammered to start the world’s trading. The Nikkei index in Japan fell 2.1 percent. The main stock averages fell 2.8 percent in China, 2.9 percent in South Korea, 2.6 percent in Australia and almost 5 percent in Hong Kong.

Europe fared even worse. The stock market fell 5.3 percent in France, 5 percent in Germany and 4.7 percent in Britain.


chootspa 6 years, 6 months ago

Global austerity measures = opposite of stimulus. Thanks for playing!

deec 6 years, 6 months ago

Ireland. Greece. Spain. Britain. Italy. How's that austerity working out in those places?

ljwhirled 6 years, 6 months ago

Liberty_One: You are such a hypocrit.

Before its "austerity" Canada's government spending was 50% of GDP. During the leanest year of Canada's "austerity" government spending was 39.1% of GDP.

In 2010 the US's spending was 40% of GDP. That means we ARE in a period of austerity.

We don't have a spending problem, simply put our taxes are too low.

Canada Ref:

US Spending Ref:

jafs 6 years, 6 months ago

Last time we had a balanced budget, our spending and tax revenue was at about 18% of GDP.

We are both spending too much and raising too little revenue, and any reasonable approach to balancing the budget would include both spending cuts and revenue increases.

Canada, of course, also has a nationalized health insurance program that the US doesn't have, so our spending should reflect that as well.

Fossick 6 years, 6 months ago

"Selling started in Asia, picked up speed in Europe and sent Wall Street near its worst finish of the year..."

No, it didn't. Selling started five minutes after the Fed announced Operation Twist:

The beauty of Operation Twist is not that it's stupid, but that it's so mind-bogglingly stupid that even an idiot like Bernanke grasps its colossal stupidity. Or as he wrote in "Monetary Policy Alternatives at the Zero Bound: An Empirical Assessment" in 2004:

"Operation Twist is widely viewed today as having been a failure."

So now we're not just recycling ideas, we are recycling ideas that failed 40 years ago.

None of this is to say that our market (or our president) is the only problem or even the main one. The world's governments are broke, though some are broker than others. The problem is that their solution for every problem is more debt. Going into more debt, no matter how much, is not going to fix the problem. You don't eat your way out of an obesity epidemic.

But the more we try, the worse our congestive collective heart failure is going to get.

Fossick 6 years, 6 months ago

Sorry about the chart. I should have realized Big charts would roll 2-day old data off the 2-day chart at market open today. DOH!

Here's a 5-day chart:

Notice the gap - that's yesterday's nasty open. Now look right before it; the market was falling hard into the close 2 days ago, beginning with the Fed's announcement at 1pm. Asian markets were not open at that point; they open at 6 pm Central m/l.

What the charts do not show is how George Bush is responsible for yesterday's excitement on Wall Street. For that we have Merrill fortunately. Take it away, Buddy:

Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

FRAUD was at the forefront of the second RINO home loan scam by Bush/Cheney pretending all was well. FRAUD by Reagan/Bush sponsored the first home loan scam in the 1980's.

17 million need full time jobs that pay well above poverty = RINO's are so dumb!

"Government regulatory agencies turned a blind eye to the highly risky practices of financial firms, practices that both encouraged the development of the bubble and made the impact all the worse when it burst. Moreover, the private rating agencies (e.g., Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s) were complicit. Dependent on the financial institutions for their fees, they gave excessively good ratings to these risky investments. Perhaps not fraud in the legal sense, but certainly misleading.

And, yes, substantial fraud was involved. For example, mortgage companies and banks used deceit to get people to take on mortgages when there was no possibility that the borrowers would be able to meet the payments. Not only was this fraud, but this fraud depended on government authorities ignoring their regulatory responsibilities."

Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

Jeb Bush had one of his own successful real estate FRAUD scams in which to celebrate:

Jeb Bush defaulted on a $4.56 million loan from Broward Federal Savings in Sunrise, Florida. After federal regulators closed the S&L, the office building that Jeb used the $4.56 million to finance was reappraised by the regulators at $500,000, which Bush and his partners paid. The taxpayers had to pay back the remaining 4 million plus dollars.

Neil Bush was active as well:

Neil Bush was the most widely targeted member of the Bush family by the press in the S&L scandal. Neil became director of Silverado Savings and Loan at the age of 30 in 1985. Three years later the institution was belly up at a cost of $1.6 billion to tax payers to bail out.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

With all of the crooked politicians, family members and political friends the economy has yet to prove itself invincible. RINO's are crooks in the largest sense of the word.

For clarification purposes only: Today's republican party is occupied by fraudulent RINO's through and through who scream about taxes yet walk away with them at the same time.

Duped Again = any true blue republicans should revolt and leave the party that once was fiscally conservative,socially responsible and did not replace elected officials for voting across the aisle. My republican father in law did leave the party after 50 years.

Watch for Sam Brownback to do whatever the scoundrel can do to replace Sandy Praeger.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 6 months ago

Obama said in Feb. 2009 that if the economy did not turn around in three years, his presidency would be a one term proposition. Should we take him at his word?

jhawkinsf 6 years, 6 months ago

I would say that while Obama is incredibly weak, given his record, the Republicans have responded so far by offering the weakest sets of candidates imaginable. I expect this to be a very close election with a much lower turnout than when Obama was elected.
The U.S. Constitution makes no mention of a two party system and it certainly does not speak of a Republican or Democratic Party. Perhaps the loudest message we can all send Washington is to vote for the third party candidate that most closely resembles our position. If a significant enough proportion of the electorate were to do that, the politicians would eventually have to listen to us and perhaps, some years down the road, government will be returned to the people who should own it.

jhawkinsf 6 years, 6 months ago

A third party challenge might help one party or the other this time around. That would be a good thing. Especially if it hurts the other party next time. Since neither party is particularly responsive to the electorate, they need to be hurt, until such a time as they become responsive or the third party usurps their legitimacy. I'm not saying a two party system is bad, I'm these two parties have become bad. They can either change or go away, as far as I'm concerned.

jafs 6 years, 6 months ago

Obama has deserted his far-left supporters in a number of ways, and adopted various Republican ideas and policies already - he's hardly catering to the far left.

And, unless the Republicans can come up with a more attractive candidate, Obama will probably win re-election.

I also think jhf is right, and that the next election will have a much lower turnout - many disillusioned folks will just not vote at all, which is very unfortunate.

chootspa 6 years, 6 months ago

Only if his opponent actually has a plan and a clue. Haven't seen a candidate with either of those things yet. Well, OK, Paul has a plan. He's just missing the clue.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 6 months ago

Where's Mr. Meow Mix taking Air Force One to now? Another fat-cat fundraising event?

Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

The DOW should never be used as a measure of the economy. Folks who seriously play Wall Street are not going to be on food stamps anytime soon.

Wall Street is completely responsible for itself no matter what. It's the players that screw it up many times for their own personal gains. Wall Street has little real impact on the economy or jobs creation. Wall Street is little more than fun and games for those who can afford to lose money then bounce back after creating super buys for themselves. It's not for everyone which in reality should dim any type of romance for Wall Street. Leave it to the folks with tons of money to burn as no one else can afford such luxury.

There is a commonly accepted myth that buying stock in the stock market provides funds directly to businesses that they can use for new investment. This is completely incorrect. Only when someone buys stock that is part of an initial public offering (IPO) does the money go directly to the firm.

If you were to buy a share of Microsoft stock tomorrow, the money you pay would go to the owner of that stock and not to Microsoft. If a large number of people were to suddenly enter the stock market, it would drive up the selling price of stock and create a windfall for those who currently own stock, but it would not provide a penny to the firms whose stock is traded.

Economists Dean Baker and Bob Pollin did a study a decade ago during the IPO boom that illustrates this distinction. They found that for every $113 in stocks traded, less than one dollar actually went to businesses to finance real investment.

Fossick 6 years, 6 months ago

Good God, Merrill. Not only was that completely competent and original, it was almost entirely correct. I'm not going to pick any nits. +5

FWIW, this illustrates almost the entire problem with modern, sclerotic, piratical capitalism*, As more 'regular' people buy stocks via mutual funds, more and more of the existing stock comes under what is called 'institutional ownership.' Every share under that ownership is voted by the mutual fund that owns it, not by the regular guy whose money 'bought' it. Over time, this removes just about any impact a regular person could have on a corporation - and it also explains why shareholders never rebel when their CEO makes millions driving the company under: the shares are voted by the golfing buddy of the CEO and the board, and he sees no problem with fat salaries.

The stock market for most people, the vast, vast majority, is a gamble and no more. It has nothing to do with the economy except in an 'animal spirits' sort of way, its daily fluctuations mean nothing, and its institutional setup is designed almost wholly to suck the money out of small investors for the benefit of large ones. It's a crooked craps table, and the dice are loaded against you in most cases. The only thing less meaningful than day to day fluctuations in the markets is what passes for commentary on them.

  • And the problem with Social Security privatization.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

About Social Security goes something like this. It is a great and successful program that generates trillions which is why Wall Street crooks and thinkers want their grubby criminal hands all over it. If it was failing and generating only a few hundred bucks this conversation would not be taking place.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

Problems with Privatization:

During the 20th century, there were several periods lasting more than ten years when the return on stocks was negative. After the Dow Jones stock index went down by over 75% between 1929 and 1933, the Dow did not return to its 1929 level until 1953 = 24 years.

In claiming that the rate of return on a stock investment is guaranteed to be greater than the return on any other asset, Bush was lying. If an investment-firm broker made this claim to his clients, he would be arrested and charged with stock fraud. Michael Milken went to jail for several years for making just this type of promise about financial investments.

Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

Some other significant problems with Privatization of SS:

What impact would the conversion to private accounts have on the national debt?

The government would have to borrow an additional $4 trillion over the next 20 years to make up the money that would be drained out of the system by private accounts. Former President Bush and Congress racked up an average $793 billion deficit each year Bush was in office. Social Security privatization would raise the size of the government’s deficit by another $300 billion per year for the next 20 years.

This does not seem to bother Republicans, as long as they are in power. In fact, by the time the second Bush left office, the national debt had grown to $12.1 trillion. Over half of that amount had been created by Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy. Another 30% of the national debt had been created by the tax cuts for the wealthy under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Fully 81% of the national debt was created by just these three Republican Presidents.

How would the rest of the U.S. economy be affected if the private accounts replaced the current system?

Put simply, moving to a system of private accounts would not only put retirement income at risk—it would likely put the entire economy at risk.

The current Social Security system generates powerful, economy-stimulating multiplier effects. This was part of its original intent. In the early 1930s, the vast majority of the elderly were poor. While they were working, they could not afford to both save for retirement and put food on the table, and most had no employer pension.

When Social Security began, elders spent every penny of that income. In turn, each dollar they spent was spent again by the people and businesses from whom they had bought things. In much the same way, every dollar that goes out in pensions today creates about 2.5 times as much total income.

If the move to private accounts reduces elders’ spending levels, as almost all analysts predict, that reduction in spending will have an even larger impact on slowing economic growth.

The current Social Security system also reduces the income disparity between the rich and the poor. Private accounts would increase inequality—and increased inequality hinders economic growth. For example, a 1994 World Bank study of 25 countries demonstrated that as income inequality rises, productivity growth is reduced. Market economies can fall apart completely if the level of inequality becomes too extreme.

The rapid increase in income inequality that occurred in the 1920s was one of the causes of the Great Depression. And the rapid increase in inequality under the Reagan and two Bush administrations was one of the causes of the current “Great Recession.”

Flap Doodle 6 years, 6 months ago

merrill forgot that attribution thing on his "original" post from 3:56. A big chunk of it came from a 2005 article at You should apologize to Fossick for leading him to think you'd actually written that.

Fossick 6 years, 6 months ago

Great, here I go and honestly praise Merrill for being original and he cuts and pastes the same old crap we've seen a thousand times. Sorry, Merrill, I'm never saying anything nice about you again.

Kris Adair 6 years, 6 months ago

That is every taxpayer's share. Not everyone's. Everyone's share comes to around $47,000 or about 1 years wages.

Too bad we didn't leave the tax code like it was in 1999. Under Gore's 2000 plan we would have the national debt paid off by now.

Mike Ford 6 years, 6 months ago

merrill has to be an's not like any of you actually know anything more than what you repeat from Jonah Goldberg or any other Fox mind programing device. President Obama gave a pass on Haliburton, XE, and all the Iraq nonsense. Yet the hypocrites who got a pass want high ground...and what planet do they live all cleanse your criminals....Ollie North....Gordon Liddy, Scooter Libby, Darth have skeletons...throw rocks and break your house at your own risk.

Flap Doodle 6 years, 6 months ago

Copy/pasting isn't as valuable a job skill as teleprompter reading. Look how far that got the Mope in Chief!

Fossick 6 years, 6 months ago

Well, in all fairness to the President, he didn't actually say the oceans would go down. What he said was

"I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth. " -- Sen Obama, 6/3/2008, in St. Paul, MN.

So they still might go up a teeny weeny bit, but nothing like they would have gone up if that other guy had won. Not to mention, we'd still have troops in Iraq and probably Afghanistan as well. We might even have unemployment, too.

But that quote is so sweet you can get it as a ringtone if you want it:

After all, all these things are done with "profound humility and knowledge of (his) own limitations." But you've got to admit a guy who can change sea level, that's pretty awesome. No wonder he won.

Mike Ford 6 years, 6 months ago

at least he can read and be a law professor....when the clowns are done muddying the waters, they always leave out the law degree...attack the educated....bring them down to your level....what level is that....not smart....Bush couldn't think himself out of a paper bag or avoid choking on a pretzel....oops someone remember... go into denial and bash Obama...that's the plan.....

ljwhirled 6 years, 6 months ago

Liberty_One: Based on your comments here, you didn't learn much about it in school (or afterword) either.

Mike Ford 6 years, 6 months ago

I'm so afraid of frankenromney with the bolts in his forehead and crazy eyes talking up the HPV angle and Josh Brolin the second W Bush that this country is on a crash course with the power of stupid. Listen to the power of the dumb rant....who cares how dumb the rant is or the subject is....who cares about facts.... celebrate the power of dumb....

Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago

Again the DOW should never be used as a measure of the economy. Folks who seriously play Wall Street are not going to be on food stamps anytime soon.

Then again home building should never be used as a measure of the economy because it makes folks believe we keep building homes whether there is market for them or not. Home builders,bankers and Wall Street are tax dollar leeches.

Retail construction should never be used as a measure of the economy because it makes folks believe we keep building new retail whether there is market for new retail or not.

Wall Street is completely responsible for itself no matter what. It's the players that screw it up many times for their own personal gains. Wall Street has little real impact on the economy or jobs creation. Wall Street is little more than fun and games for those who can afford to lose money then bounce back after creating super buys for themselves.

It's not for everyone which in reality should dim any type of romance for Wall Street. Leave it to the folks with tons of money to burn as no one else can afford such luxury.

Now the Wall Street banks who supported the Home Loan Scam are seeking state by state immunity from prosecution for any criminal activity that may surface.

What would stabilize Wall Street for the wealthy and give the economy some serious ZIP? Jobs jobs Jobs Jobs Jobs Jobs Jobs.

Let's put Bush/Cheney/Paulson and the Wall Street bankers in jail at their expense.

In addition let's get behind a USA Government jobs bill that puts dollars directly into the bank accounts of USA workers.

USA corp America prefers to hire the communist Chinese and other nations so why in the hell do we give these fools tax codes that support this absolute nonsense aka BS? If corp America wants to employ those abroad fine but tax the hell out of their profits and make off shore accounts illegal!!!!

Richard Heckler 6 years, 6 months ago


Keep in mind a prospering america can overcome repub fear mongering... it must.

What is the repub party afraid? Why do they ALWAYS say no?


  • Fear a dramatically improved quality of life for all americans for the RINO's fear it would keep them out of control for decades = USA jobs for life, no more home loan scams and bank robberies!

  • Fear Jobs Jobs Jobs for americans

  • Fear New USA industry thus new wealth for america

  • Fear new cleaner energy sources because it would create so many new jobs and reduce rates across the board

  • Fear Improved Medicare Insurance for All = huge tax dollar savings to government,public schools,small business and all of us in general. Single Payer Medicare is the answer.

  • Fear Clean Collar Industries which produce jobs that cannot be outsourced

  • Fear educated Americans because WE ask questions

  • Fear llosing of tax incentives/tax breaks for the wealthy that actually create tax increases for entire spectrum of the middleclass

  • Repubs should NOT fear a dramatically improved quality of life for all Americans but they keep saying NO

  • Repubs should NOT fear Clean air, clean water, clean energy and healthy green space scattered throughout America however they always vote NO

  • RINO Repubs fear a dramatically improved quality of life for they fear it would keep them out of control for decades = USA jobs for life, no more home loan scams and bank robberies!


Mike Ford 6 years, 6 months ago

yeah math it is...we watch fox to study clueless people in another world....

Flap Doodle 6 years, 6 months ago

Wow, merrill, you waited a long time before reposting the same tired twaddle.

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