"Extreme market stress": Dow drops 450 at open

Forget about that fancy-pants credit freeze. It's a good old real economy meltdown that has investors terrified now

Published October 24, 2008 1:43PM (EDT)

When trading in Dow futures is halted before the start of trading  because they've fallen 550 points, the maximum allowed, you can prepare for a rough day on Wall Street. And sure enough, moments after the opening bell, stock indexes went off the cliff -- the Dow Jones Industrial Average was down nearly 450 points.  (By 10 a.m. EST, the Dow had recovered somewhat: Down 300).

Why the renewed burst of panic? Simply put, economies all over the world are sliding into recession or experiencing sharply slowing growth. Britain's GDP growth slowed .5 percent in the third quarter, the first contraction since 1992. The price of oil fell below $64 a barrel -- unmoved by the announcement that OPEC intends to cut production by 1.5 million barrels a day.

Bloomberg provides a number so big as to defy comprehension:

More than $10 trillion has been erased from the market value of equities so far this month, accounting for about one-third of the total value wiped off world equities this year.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Globalization Great Recession How The World Works Stock Market U.s. Economy Wall Street