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I am not good at interpreting the stock market ups and downs, and I am a noobie on the economics. Recently this week, every major news papers and news TVs report that there something bad happened the U.S. stock market, and it is affecting the world. Can anyone tell me what exactly happen and explain to me in easy way? I honestly do not know what happened to the stock market, and all I know is it is not a good sign. Can you also tell me, how bad is it? Is it so bad that it deserves to cover the front page of the news paper? And what will happen as a consequence of this happening? Thanks in advance.
It's complicated, but I'll try! First things first, when the US economy was sluggish and the Fed dropped interest rates to 0% to give it a kick-start, a lot of lenders (including established banks, but also start-ups) offered sub-prime loans to borrowers with bad or no credit histories. The thing about sub-prime loans is they have very high profit margins (they charge two or three points more than other lenders) but are risky. So many people in the US with bad credit wanted to get on the housing ladder, especially when property looked like a good investment, and some of them just to cash in on rising property prices, that when values plummeted and interest rates rose, a lot of these people just walked away and handed in the keys. The debts they owed to the lenders were worth more than the houses. And there was nothing the lenders could do about it. After all, you can't get money out of a rock, especially a bankrupt rock. When things were good, however, these lenders were looking to capitalize on their fortunes by borrowing even more money in order to offer loans to even more bad debtors. And because of the (then) high returns, the banks who lent the money to the other banks jumped on the bandwagon. As did insurance companies, real estate companies and private investors. As did hedge funds. Sometimes, the people ultimately lending the money didn't even know they were getting into risky sub-primes. The sub-prime mortgages were packaged with other risks and labelled "securities". The impacts were felt far and wide. There are banks in Germany, Japan and elsewhere which invested in these packaged funds and they now find themselves exposed. Only, they don't know what their exposure is. Or they don't want their shareholders to know that they have willingly taken such a stupid risk with their (the shareholders') money. So the shareholders started to revolt, and the reaction of the lenders (those that have not already filed Chapter 13 or asked for other creditor protection) was to do a 180 and not offer ANY credit to ANY body, because of the risk. Which is stupid because the main purpose of banks is to make money. And they make most of their money by loaning money. Visa and Mastercard exist on the interest millions of people pay them every month they do not pay off their credit card balances in full. S&Ls also make most of their money from unsecured loans. As do new and used car dealers, department stores (ones with their own credit cards or who do extended credit/layaway plans) - basically, anybody who offers you a line of credit, no matter how small, is now scared. And because they are scared, they want to protect themselves by increasing their liquidity (like stuffing money in the mattress), and the way they do that is by charging higher interest on the money they lend to everybody, even other banks. If I am not incorrect, most of the trade that goes on in the world is financed by one bank loaning another bank money, which then loans it to another bank, which then loans it to a customer. When that happens, credit becomes so expensive that people can't afford to keep up payments. The higher the payments, the more people default. The more defaults, the more banks go bust. Not to mention that with a real estate market in the crapper and personal debt at its highest level ever, consumer confidence is dented. And consumer spending is what runs the engine called the "U.S. Economy". 2/3rds of U.S. GDP is in consumer spending (yes, you read it right). When consumer spending stops or slows, then the country goes into recession. What's worse, is now there is inflation in the market which wasn't there in 2001. So you have the worst of both worlds: stagflation - low or no growth and nothing anybody can do about it, because the Fed cannot drop interest rates dramatically when there is any inflationary pressure. I fear the end result will be a big recession in the U.S. economy which will impact the rest of the world to varying degrees because American consumers don't just buy American goods, they buy imports, too. Most economists believe other economies are in a fairly Athens-Clarke position because of globalization, i.e. they can trade with each other, even if the U.S. consumer stops buying everything in sight. And also, the position of personal finances in the rest of the industrialized world is quite different from the U.S., because their citizens do not live on credit and have savings.
So-called experts have cried doom-and-gloom again! Balame the mortgage lenders who took on far too much responsibility when they gave out mortgages a few years ago to people who should have never had such high personal debt. Too many were "buying up" to houses they could never afford with conventional mortgages, and they were given adjustable rate mortgages by the lenders. When the ARM terms ran out and the lenders raised the interest rates on theses mortgages to levels where the buyers could no longer afford the (much) higher monthly payments, it meant the lenders could no longer cover their own bills and loan repayments! So now the little people are in the BUSH once again! The market is dropping and our retirement investments are in the crapper for the short term. If you are young enough and you have invested in reputable equities, then you'll be okay in several years! Hang in there.
Banks bought up too many bad debts - report they have huge debts and shareholders start to sell sell sell thus taking billions out of the market. Don't ask me why banks buy up the bad debts in the first place, they obviously think there's money to be made.
Greed has caught up with the speculators - all I hope is that "buy to let" speculators are caught out next so that decent Families can afford to buy a home to raise their children in (or have decent council housing to rent not let the councils rely on these speculators to provide "homes" for people).
It's easy, the rich drive the price of stocks up and then sell them to dumass's who thinkthey are going to make money. Then they drive the prices down and buy them back from the same dumass's