Volatility and Investor Behavior in Today’s Uncertain Market

The PBS Newshour reports on recent market volatility, noting a series of contributing events.

Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab said, “a lot of [the current volatility] really is unfisnished business from 2015, it’s just conspired to occur in a condensed period of time, unfortunately at the beginning of the year, which I think adds to the angst of investors.” She also noted, “we do not think this is the beginning of a big nasty bear market, but it could get worse before it gets better.” Further, she opined that the financial crisis, coming within a decade of the prior bear market, “really changed the psyche of a generation of investors,” causing them to “hunker down much more quickly” than was previously the case. She thinks “that explains why we see this sense of urgency and sometimes panic kick in so quickly in this environment.” She also suggested, “I think what we’re seeing has a greater analogy to 1998 than it does to 2008 [due to] major currency disruptions, problems in the emerging markets, [and] it ultimately caused a tremendous amount of volatility and even a very severe correction in the U.S. stock market, but it didn’t take the financial system nor the U.S. economy down with it.”

Bradley Olson of the Wall Street Journal discussed the major drop in oil prices, identifying China and Iran as key drivers. Further, he noted “problems or questions about demand that would have been able to bring up the price.” In addition, he observed that “when the price goes down . . . all the producers and companies actually try to pump more oil because they try to make up for whatever [revenue] they’ve been losing” as a result of price drops. He commented that ” you have to go all the way back to the ’70s and the Arab oil embargo to find a time when the crash was as bad as it is now.”