On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 634 points. On Tuesday, it skyrocketed 429 points. On Wednesday, it took another dive — this time, a 519-point drop. And on Thursday, the Dow rallied to climb 431 points. Never before in the Dow's history has the market seen four straight days of 400+ point swings. In trading Friday morning, the Dow was up triple digits again. How much longer will this roller coaster go on?

Expect market volatility until Western economies improve: "We are going to continue to be in a choppy period with these big swings" for some time, says Margaret Patel with Wells Capital Management, as quoted in The Wall Street Journal. The turbulence will continue "until we can see that the U.S. economy has at least stabilized and might be moving modestly higher in growth." Plus, Europe's debt crisis continues to rattle markets. These massive market swings won't stop "until we feel more confident that Europe has managed to avoid a severe financial crisis."
"U.S. stocks surge to fresh highs; DJIA on track to erase most of Wednesday swoon"

Hey, maybe the worst really is behind us: "I'd like to believe [we've hit a bottom]," says Art Cashin, UBS Financial Services' director of floor operations, as quoted at CNBC. European markets rebounded Thursday after a "tremendous whipsaw," and that could have a lasting calming effect on this side of the pond, too — particularly if a European short-selling ban makes "the bears go into hibernation." Time will tell.
"Stocks climb 2 percent, led by banks; gold declines"

"The truth is, nobody knows": The market's "mega-mood swings" are certainly unnerving, says Roya Wolverson at TIME. But there are so many factors at play, it's impossible to truly predict when things will calm down. The Fed's promise this week to extend low interest rates helped, but it doesn't change the bigger issues: "The global economy's flawed structure is beginning to come unhinged." Until trade imbalances with China improve, Western nations get a handle on their debt, and policymakers show they have a command of the situation, investors will probably remain jittery, and the markets volatile.
"Is market volatility here to stay?"