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Marketplace Morning Report

Markets plummet on renewed fears of European debt, return to recession

Marketplace Staff Aug 18, 2011
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STEVE CHIOTAKIS: So what’s making the market so crazy today? We got disappointing weekly jobless claims, bad housing news, worries about inflation, and a whole bunch of other below-expectation barometers. But those things aren’t necessarily what are driving those markets into the tank this morning.

So for more perspective on this, let’s bring in our senior business correspondent Bob Moon, who’s manning the Marketplace “wild swing” desk. Morning, Bob.

BOB MOON: Thanks, Steve, good morning. Here we go again. There’s a whole litany of bad news weighing on the market this morning. We’re face-to-face with recessionary pressures again. But here’s the real whammy on the markets this morning: Fresh worries over Europe’s debt crisis. This morning the Wall Street Journal headlined a story that the Federal Reserve has been pushing the U.S. operations of European banks to make sure they’re keeping enough money in their vaults in the event of a crisis. Now, you could read that as the Fed heading off trouble. But this Journal story led-off talking about growing worry of a spillover into the U.S. banking system, and when I spoke to researcher Daniel Martin earlier this morning at Economist Intelligence Unit, he made it clear that kind of alarming talk is precisely what the markets didn’t need.

DANIEL MARTIN: A news story like this obviously isn’t good, especially since it was banks that tended to be hardest hit by that crash last week.

And not only that, but wait, there’s more. There are signs the Eurozone’s bailout of Greece may be in some doubt this morning. And the market is just struggling under the weight of all this news.

CHIOTAKIS: What’s happening in other financial markets this morning? Gold and treasuries, those other things?

MOON: Gold is back up to another record high — no surprise there — just shy of $1,818 an ouncenow. That’s still below its inflation-adjusted peak from back in 1980, but it is still rising. The value of the safe-haven dollar is up, and the price of Treasuries — they’re climbing. We spoke to Mesirow Financial’s chief economist Diane Swonk this morning, and she says the irony there is that downgrade of U.S. debt that touched off all the fear last week doesn’t seem to be bothering investors now.

DIANE SWONK: They’re running to what they see as the safety, the clear safety of the U.S. Treasury market, kind of undermining what S&P did in terms of downgrading. In fact, we’ve seen that more people have sought the safety of the U.S. credit market — the U.S. Treasury market in particular — since S&P downgraded a few weeks ago.

In fact, Steve, the yield on the 10-year T-note has fallen this morning below two percent for the first time. Essentially investors are telling Uncle Sam, take my money, please.

CHIOTAKIS: Alright. Marketplace’s Bob Moon, watching things here at our studio in Los Angeles. Bob, thanks.

MOON: Thanks.

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