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Suffering Stock Market Reflects Economic Woes, Political Ineptness

Summer Stock Market Drop, By the Numbers

COMMENTARY Thursday saw the Dow drop by 521.76, a 4 percent drop fueled by fears of another recession – a “double-dip,” where a recovery stalls and the slide begins once again. The debt ceiling agreement reached in Washington demonstrated nothing but what a small and vocal minority can do when they are willing to destroy everything and give away nothing.

With the continuation of the slide, or its end, on hold until job numbers come in, here are some numbers to ponder while waiting to see what happens:

512.76: The one-day drop of the Dow Thursday, a 4.31 percent drop.

136.68: How far the NASDAQ fell the same day, a 5.08 percent decline.

60.27: The number, amounting to a 4.78 percent fall, for the S & P 500.

10.7 percent in 10 days: The cumulative loss in the S & P over the last 10 trading days.

3.4 percent: The drop in European markets ahead of the big drops on Wall Street, according to the Wall Street Journal.

10 percent: The plunge suffered by Lloyds Banking Group after the British bank swung to a first-half net loss. Regulators are pushing British banks to publicly disclose more about their exposure to troubled economies and institutions. European banks bore the brunt of losses in Euro Zone markets.

0.008: The almost non-existent return on one-month treasury bills.

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About 70 percent of the economy in the U.S.: The portion of the economy driven by consumer spending. The Thomson Reuters/ University of Michigan’s most recent measure of consumer sentiment comes in at just 63.7,down from 71.5 in June and the lowest reading since March 2009.

Up by 21 percent: The amount capital investment rose during the first quarter, according to Reuters. One of the few bright spots in the economy, capital investments were similarly robust in the second quarter but are anticipated to drop off sharply, even if companies continue to have record levels of cash on hand.

400,000 initial job claims: The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits, which seems to be a marker of either an anemic job market or an improving labor equation. Below that is considered a positive by many observers, above a sign of weakening. Of course, the number is far too high and represents real people, not just a Wall Street formula.

22 percent: The amount the Dow fell on Black Monday, the biggest one-day drop ever reports The News-Press. It happened in October of 1987, another time when erroneous monetary policies pushed by conservative ideologues caused market instability and recession.

Around $86 a barrel: Where crude oil is trading, a low for the year. It’s not likely to make an immediate impact at the pump, but with gasoline inventories very high, the lower price should trickle down to the pump by the end of the month if the level doesn’t rise.

That’s a sampling of numbers that help frame the picture of an economy very much in need of improvement. While Washington was busied with the artificial crisis over raising the debt ceiling, real worry crept back into the outlook.

Update: The jobs report came out Friday, beating expectations. Analysts had predicted around 85,000 jobs added, and the report indicated 117,000. So far, Wall Street is reacting positively, according to ABC News.

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