August 10th, 2011
08:15 PM GMT
(CNN) – The topsy-turvy world of the stock markets continued Wednesday with the main indices all off very sharply. Today's serious falls came when Wall Street opened and tumbled sharply.
It was a classic case of the European market grumbling for most of the day, seeking direction from the U.S. - and then responding accordingly.
Behind the falls are real and growing worries about the economic health of the major economies.
The Governor of the Bank of England, Sir Mervyn King, said: "There are a number of headwinds to world and domestic growth ... and these headwinds are becoming stronger by the day."
The U.S. Federal Reserves statement yesterday said U.S. growth this year was "considerably slower" than expected, "household spending had flattened out" and the housing sector remained "depressed."
Most important of all, the Fed has announced for the first time that it will keep rates low until 2013: A remarkable admission of the weakness being faced.
This is the wider economic picture in which markets are trading.
Robert Dole, the chief equity strategist from Blackstone, told me yesterday that the future direction of markets was rooted in the economic numbers.
In that case, the outlook does not look too rosy. We can expect the markets to keep testing different low levels to see if buyers are there.
In the short term there is not a lot that can be done other than ensuring sufficient liquidity in the system for those banks that may find themselves under attack.
For instance today it was Societe Generale in Paris that lost more than 14% in value. The bank says it "denies all market rumors."
There is no obvious reason for this dramatic drop, but it's a fair guess that the central banks are getting ready to pump whatever money is needed into the financial system to prevent the gears from seizing up, as they did in 2008.
It may be the summer, but these are dangerous times and I don't think they are over yet.
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