Stock markets have been plummeting. The FTSE 100 index was 6055 on 7 July 2011; by 10 August, it was 17% lower at 5007. Since then it has risen as high as 5418, but by 13 September was down to 5092. Other stock markets have fared worse. The French index fell 30% between early July and September 13, and the German DAX index fell 32% over the same period.
These falls in share prices reflect demand and supply. Investors are worried about the future of the eurozone and the health of the European economy as Greek default looks more and more likely and as the debts of various other European countries, such as Portugal, Ireland and Spain, seem increasingly unsustainable in an environment of sluggish economic growth. They are also worried about high public-sector debt in the USA and the likelihood that global recovery will peter out.
The ‘bear’ market (falling share prices) reflects increased selling of shares and a lack of demand. Not only are investors worried about the global economy, they are also speculating that share prices will fall further, thereby compounding the falls (at least until the ‘bottom’ is reached).
But why have share prices fallen quite so much? And does it matter to the general public that this is happening? The following articles seek to answer these questions.
Shares tumble on fears over Greek default Guardian, Graeme Wearden (12/9/11)
European Factors-Shares set for steep fall on Greece worries Reuters (12/9/11)
Markets set for turmoil after G-7 letdown BusinessDay (South Africa), Mariam Isa (12/9/11)
What will happen if Greece defaults? The Conversation (Australia), Sam Wylie (12/9/11)
Germany and Greece flirt with mutual assured destruction The Telegraph, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard (11/9/11)
Market Swings Are Becoming New Standard New York Times, Louise Story and Graham Bowley (11/9/11)
The next bull market The Bull (Australia) (12/9/11)
Prepare For Recession And Bear Market Forbes, Sy Harding (9/9/11)
Eurozone crisis: What market turmoil means for you BBC News, Kevin Peachey (8/9/11)
Stock market indices
FTSE 100: historical prices, 1984 to current day Yahoo Finance
Dow Jones Industrial Average: historical prices, 1928 to current day Yahoo Finance
Nikkei 225 (Japan): historical prices, 1984 to current day Yahoo Finance
DAX (Germany): historical prices, 1990 to current day Yahoo Finance
CAC 40 (France): historical prices, 1990 to current day Yahoo Finance
Hang Seng (Hong Kong): historical prices, 1986 to current day Yahoo Finance
SSE Composite (China: Shanghai): historical prices, 2000 to current day Yahoo Finance
BSE Sensex (India): historical prices, 1997 to current day Yahoo Finance
Stock markets BBC
- What factors have led to the recent falls in stock market prices? Explain just why these factors have contributed to the falls.
- What is likely to happen to stock market prices in the coming weeks? Why is it difficult to predict this?
- What is meant by the efficient capital markets hypothesis? If markets were perfectly efficient, why would it be impossible to predict future movements in stock market prices? Why may stock markets not be perfectly efficient?
- What factors determine stock market prices over the longer term?
- How are share prices influenced by speculation? Distinguish between stabilising and destabilising speculation.
- Explain the various ways in which members of the general public can be affected by share price falls. Are you affected in any way? Explain.
- If Greece defaults, what will determine the resulting effect on stock markets?
- To what extent does the stock market demonstrate the ‘brutal face of supply and demand’?