...is absolutely unprecedented volatility. I'm sure people with long-term options contracts are probably scrambling for a dark corner to hang themselves in right about now, or a roof to leap off from. I wouldn't want to attempt calling these markets right now.
Today, the fear isn't the banks, but rather impending recession. Stocks are sucking wind, gold is off over 25% from its highs a couple of months ago, but at least we'll have cheap gasoline... wholesale gasoline futures at the moment are around $1.61 a gallon (when you figure in taxes, we might be seeing gas below $2.40 before too long if they maintain those levels).
Beyond just that, the currency markets are completely going bananas. Remember all the apocalyptic talk about the weakening dollar? Here's some data for you; from the dollar's weakest performances just over three months ago:
The euro has gone from $1.60 to $1.28.
The pound sterling has gone from $2.01 (and a local strength of $2.10 a year ago) to $1.63.
The Canadian dollar has gone from $1.01 (and a local strength of $1.08 a year ago) to 80 cents.
The Norwegian krona has gone from 20 cents to 14 cents.
And, in the prime example of currency freefall, the Australian dollar slid from 98 cents to 67 cents.
Overall, that's a good sign; it's meaning that investors are, on balance, bullish about America's economic prospects going forward.
Even if we can't see it too well right now.