Anxiety is an occupational hazard, a fact of life, for professional traders. After all, even on good days, something is always going wrong, somewhere.
But when everything starts to go wrong at once, imaginations can run wild. Like now, when everywhere you look, something’s blowing up. In commodities, it’s the record plunge in oil. In equities, it’s six weeks of turbulence in the S&P 500. Debt markets have been rattled by the turmoil engulfing General Electric and PG&E. Bitcoin just plunged 13 percent. And Goldman Sachs, the storied investment bank, is having the worst week since 2016.
By themselves, none would be enough to incite panic. But have them erupt all around and even the most grizzled Wall Street types can start to sound paranoid. Does GE have something to do with Goldman? How does Bitcoin sway the stock market? Wildfires have nothing to do with crude’s convulsions, but both are bad news for banks.