Stock markets tumbled Wednesday, said Justin Fox in Time online, with the Dow dropping 7.8 percent and the S&P 500 down 9 percent. Well, “these are volatile times, and in volatile times you’ll get days like this.” This time the drop is due to recession fears driven by dour earnings, which is still "kinda scary," but at least it's not last week's all-out “financial-system panic.”

“If we’re lucky, the panic phase of this crisis may be over,” said Steven Pearlstein in The Washington Post, but “we are in a bear market and will be for some time.” What that means for most consumers is “a temporary reduction in our standard of living,” as we adjust to the bursting of our “bubble economy.” It won’t be pleasant, and it won’t be quick.

If you listen to the talking heads, said David Callaway in MarketWatch, you’ll hear “an overwhelming rush to describe where we’re going in the worst possible terms.” Will it really be that bad? Three months ago analysts were predicting $300 barrels of oil; oil’s now at $75. Are we “overshooting in our dire predictions”? Nobody knows.

For that reason, you should resist the urge to jump into the market, said’s Ian Campbell and Robert Cyran in The New York Times. “With major markets back at the levels of 1999, stocks may look like a bargain. They’re probably not.” There’s farther to fall, and if large funds get skittish, “the recent punishing slides may not be the last.”