Repeat after me: This is not 2008

Kai Ryssdal Aug 24, 2015

I said it Friday on the radio – I’ll say it again right now.

Take.  A deep.  Breath.

Yes, things look scary.

Yes, the Dow opened down 1,000 points today.

A. Thousand. Points.

But look. There’s a whole lot going on here — some of it bad, some of it not so much — and I think a little context will help. 

First of all, sure, it’s been a lousy couple of days. But go get a 10-year chart of the three major indices — Dow Jones industrial average, Nasdaq and Standard & Poor’s 500. Yeah, not looking so bad now, is it? When stocks have been this strong for this long, we actually want to let a little air out every now and then. We just don’t want to do it all at once, which is what the past couple of days has been — and which is, by the way, why people are so jittery.

Second, China. Yes, the Chinese government is doing some, shall we say, interesting things, as it tries to get some kind of control over what is essentially an uncontrollable beast — market forces. And it is the second biggest economy on the planet, so what happens there — or doesn’t happen — will affect us to a certain degree. But we’re not, as Cardiff Garcia said on the program Friday, as exposed to what happens over there as people might think. A lot of the economic activity that happens here, starts here. 

Item three – 2008. Repeat after me. This is not 2008. This is not 2008. This is not 2008. Might things get worse before they get better? Sure. Will it be scary? Quite possibly. But where we are today is nowhere near the hyper-leveraged, credit-bubblicious place we were at when Lehman Brothers went under. 

Finally, I’ll also say, just for the record, that I have no idea what the Fed’s going to do with interest rates. September? December? The 15th of Never? No clue. What I do know? Because Janet Yellen says it all the time and I believe her: They’re going to see what the data says and then decide.

But right now, I’ll tell you, the data’s not looking so good.

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