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.
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.