Stock markets in North America, throughout Europe, and across Asia plunged again on Wednesday following the Federal Reserve's market intervention in a last minute effort to bailout troubled insurance giant American International Group (AIG).
In Moscow, Russian financial regulators halted trading on the Micex at ten minutes afternoon, according to Andrew E. Kramer of the NYT. The Micex was down 3.09% and the RTS lost 6.39% at the stop of trading Wednesday.
In London, Lloyds TSB Group was in negotiations to purchase rival HBOS the UK's largest mortgage firm, Julia Werdigier, NYT, reported. The price of gold on the London Bullion Market jumped to $813 from a start of $779.50 at the close yesterday as unnerved investors sought relief in the precious metal amidst widespread uncertainty and financial volatility.
The $85 billion intervention to save AIG by the US government did little to reassure frantic investors looking for a safe haven in unsteady seas.
Part of the unease with the Federal Reserve's latest activism in the private sector is inconsistency: the Fed had hoped for a private remedy for AIG's ills over the weekend and had refused to intervene.
Following Monday's sharp drop in stock indices around the globe, the US government felt it had little choice but to intervene to head off a wider meltdown in the world financial sytem.
Breitbart.com noted that on Monday, September 15, 2008, US Republican presidential candidate, Senator John McCain of Arizona, remarked that the American economy was fundamentally sound.
That statement didn't reflect the reality of the market turmoil swirling around the globe, however.
Steve Ladurantaye of Candada's Globe& Mail reported: “Fundamentals or any other methods that might be used to measure the market have been thrown out the window,” said Ken McCord, chief executive officer of Webb Asset Management in Toronto. “This is mass liquidation on a scale I've never seen before. What's going on is a great unwinding of highly leveraged accounts.”
The lack of a reliable and predictable mechanism for the orderly liquidation of failing US companies seems to have accelerated, not eased, investor nervousness.
Many global financiers and investors are afraid of who might be next. Without an orderly process for liquidating failed businesses, volatility will only worsen.
Foreign spectators wondered when the US government might address the underlying systemic roots of the current financial collapse: dropping US industrial output, rising under- and unemployment, mass layoffs, instability in housing values, poor regulatory structures, lagging wages, widening gaps between the very rich and poor, middle class decline, and lack of comprehensive medical and dental insurance for many American workers.
Inaction on the fundamentals means more financial chaos. Those issues can not even be contemplated before the November US presidential election, and the inauguration of a new American leader in 2009.