25 Aug 2015

'Another bloodbath today'

10:39 am on 25 August 2015

Nothing does panic quite like stock exchanges: when the bear starts to prowl the market, everyone runs.

And, when that happens, the world's economic experts start to pick over the pieces left behind.

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The bull run ends in boards of red. Photo: AAP

The question is, do they think it's going to be a marathon or a sprint to a better place in the wake of "Black Monday"?

InThe Guardian Larry Elliott is doing a version of "I told you so," writing "anybody caught unawares really hasn't been paying attention".

"Following the six-year bull market, shares in London and New York do not look especially cheap. Corporate profitability will be hurt as companies are forced to match the price of cheaper imported goods. Larry Summers, a former US Treasury secretary, underlined fears that the crash could lead to recession on Monday when he said the Fed might need to provide more stimulus.

"But, unlike in 2008, interest rates are already zero. Budget deficits mean governments have less scope to cut taxes or raise spending. China's total debt is four times what it was seven years ago. Central banks have pulled all the conventional policy levers and a few unconventional ones as well."

He's not overly optimistic then.

The Economist says simply that "it now looks very worrying indeed".

"With emerging markets faltering and Chinese rebalancing incomplete, rich economies are left as the lone engine of economic growth. That is a worrying prospect. Europe's recovery remains fragile and export-dependent. America's is more robust.

"But while American banks are healthier and consumers less indebted than they have been in more than a decade, the American economy also accounts for a smaller share of global GDP than it did in the 1990s or 2000s."

Its conclusion is much like Elliott's.

Traders at the Chicago Board Option Exchange work as big losses in the Asian market rock stocks.

Traders at the Chicago Board Option Exchange work as big losses in the Asian market rock stocks. Photo: AFP

"Rich-world governments have exceptionally little wriggle-room to act to boost up their economies… This gloomy outlook was there for all to see before today's market mess. Few seem to have anticipated that it would have such serious effects so soon."

In the New York Times Ron Lieber offered this advice to stricken investors: Take some deep breaths and don't do a thing.

"Stocks are most useful for long-term goals. So unless those goals have changed in the last few days, it probably doesn't make much sense to overhaul an investment strategy based on a blip of market activity.

"This is what markets do. There is absolutely nothing abnormal about what is going on here."

The Australian Financial Review was predicting "another bloodbath today". It said fears were growing that the slowdown in China's economy, the world's second largest, was worse than anticipated.

It sounds like we're in for a bit of a marathon.

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