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Following the Ups and Downs of the Market

If you’re spending yet another day keeping an eye on falling stock markets and hoping against a catastrophic collapse of global markets by this afternoon, it’s helpful to follow Floyd Norris at the New York Times as he liveblogs the events.

For example, Norris points that some stocks actually are up today, among them MasterCard.

He doesn’t explain why. I’m guessing investors figure people are going to have to live off their credit cards more.

At 10 a.m., when the market was still sliding, Norris offered his theories on why stocks are in such turmoil. The panic he refers to is the shakeup in overnight global markets:

First, the world is finally waking up to just how bad the world economy is, and that earnings are going to fall everywhere. Only a couple of weeks ago, some people were claiming the S&P 500 was trading at 12 times next year’s earnings, even if it was around 18 times trailing earnings.

If that is the problem, then this could be nearing an end, and this panic could really mark the bottom. (Fair warning: I’ve spotted bottoms before during this bust — and been ever so wrong.)

Second, this is the hedge fund devastation, as overleveraged hedge funds are forced to sell by falling prices, and then are forced to sell more because they drive prices even lower.

There are rumors that the Fed is liquidating one hedge fund. There are also denials, so I won’t name the fund. But even if the rumor is false, it encapsulates one big worry.

If that is the explanation, this will end when the hedge funds have finally been forced out. Then the rise could be explosive.

Happy following the market. Fortunately, Happy Hour isn’t too far off.

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