inance ministers from the world's leading economies are pledging to do whatever it takes to keep banks from failing and financial markets from crashing, but global stocks continued to head down Friday after Thursday's massive plunge. Markets in many foreign nations have already entered bear market territory — defined as a 20 percent drop from their peak. U.S. stocks aren't quite there, but many investors fear the worst is yet to come as worries of another global recession build. Is this a crash in the making, or should smart investors just sit tight?
The "perfect economic storm" is about to hit: The Dow's Thursday crash capped a 5.9 percent decline over two days — the biggest since late 2008, says Michael T. Snyder at Seeking Alpha. The two-day slide erased $900 billion in paper wealth. If the markets' "wild swings" and Europe's debt crisis aren't enough to scare you, consider that corporate insiders have recently been selling $7 of shares for every $1 they buy. "This almost always starts happening before a crash."
"Signs the perfect economic storm is coming"
We can still avert a crash: "This is a global sell-down, and a big one," says Malcolm Maiden at the Sydney Morning Herald. But stocks are being dragged down by "uncertainty rather than a consensus view that the battle to pull the world out of the hole it dug for itself in the 2007-09 financial crisis has been lost." If Greece defaults and Europe manages to keep larger economies like Spain and Italy afloat, the threat of a system-wide breakdown will vanish, and we could even see "a major market rally."
"A crash isn't inevitable, but worries aplenty"
Either way, stay calm and you will survive: Even if a depression is coming and "the world is ending," says James Altucher at MarketWatch, investors who avoid panicking and do their research will be just fine. Greece might very well go under, but Apple shares will rise with the release of the next iPhone, Amazon will clean up if the new Kindle delivers, and Google will still be Google. "Let the market be afraid while you be smart."
"Tune out the fear and panic: Seize great stock opportunities now"
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