It is Monday, August 24, and the markets are in flames. The disturbance in the force that binds business and finance began some time ago in Chinese markets and has been threatening to rumble through markets across the world for months. Here's how China's big, bursting bubble is ruining everyone else's week:
People who pay attention to the market saw something ugly coming. In one of their ever-helpful breakdowns, Vox makes it plain that the spark that started this financial forest fire was essentially "a run of bad economic news out of China." Vox cites the recent "the extraordinarily poor performance of companies like Apple" as being at the center of anxieties about the Chinese markets.
What happened in China was pretty simple. As Business Insider reported in July, China's huge and expanding middle class "poured borrowed cash into shares, which inflated prices to unsustainable levels." Prices fell, investors started selling to make up for losses, panic ensued.
Today's crashing US market—already hashtagged #BlackMonday on Twitter—is a continuation of a slide that began last week. As NBC reported, Wall Street spent last week sliding like a car on an icy road toward today's dump. The Dow lost over 1,000 points, 530 of those on Friday alone.
Is it really that bad? Kinda, but maybe not as bad as it seemed when Business Insider wrote about "Market Mayhem" early this morning. While ABC reports the Dow did fall a "whopping" 1,000 points as the echoes from the opening bell were still dying away, the U.S. market began bouncing back almost immediately. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), invoked its Rule 48, reports The Wall Street Journal, which allows relaxation of some trading rules when, writes the WSJ, "trading before the start of the regular session is especially volatile." The big money fire is still burning but it may not be time to ring more alarms.
As for what all this jitteriness really means to the average person, Vox echoes advice from market experts interviewed by cable newsers CNN and MSBNC, writing that while today's losses are hitting large foreign markets like Brazil and China pretty hard, they may not "mean much one way or the other" to an average American.
"Don't panic yet" seems to be the consensus from many sources—but maybe stay alert. And maybe don't check that 401K for a few days.
Photos by Spencer Platt/Getty Images News