There are some parts of the stock market you don’t need to be a analyst to understand.
“Markets, I don’t care what market it is, they just don’t go up in a straight line,” says Scott Wren, a senior equity strategist with Wells Fargo Advisors.
It’s in the nature of markets to give investors a bumpy ride, he says. But this recent ride has been more bumpy than most, and investors have a lot of reasons to be worried. In addition to the bad news from Germany, which Wren says is key, there's Ebola - and more.
"What’s the Federal Reserve going to do with interest rates; how much is China going to slow?" says Wren.
Quincy Crosby, a financial market strategist at Prudential Financial, says this is how the stock market is supposed to work.
“You know what, it’s like a GPS system – calculate, recalculate, recalculate yet again," she says.
She says this time investors are recalculating because of the Federal Reserve’s plan to stop buying bonds, and we might see yet another recalculation when we get more company earnings next week.
“The next big catalyst for this market, potentially, if we get good news, is what companies start telling us," she says. "Are they seeing demand for their products, are they seeing demand picking up?”
Good numbers could mean the market will come roaring back – or not. Either way, placing a bet is risky.
“Remember," says Crosby, "this isn’t a science. A lot of people think it’s a science – it’s as much an art form as it is a science.”
As for Scott Wren, he's feeling optimistic, and his bet is that the market will come back. It’s only 4 percent off, he notes, from its all time high. But, he admits, the stock market is a gamble.
"If you look at the stock market and try to figure out what’s driving it, it’s usually some combination of fear and greed."
There was a strong consensus in the U.S. oil industry that the drop in oil prices would spur Saudi Arabia to cut production and bring prices back up. That consensus was wrong. Instead Saudi Arabia cut prices, putting North American oil production in a bind, and has contributed to the downward spiral of oil prices.
In much of North America oil comes from shale, which has to be fracked. Water and chemicals are pumped into the well to create pressure that forces oil out of the ground. It’s a lot like squeezing a sponge, says Robert McNally, president of the Rapidan Group. At first a lot of liquid comes out.
“You get a rush up front," he says. "Your initial production rates are very high compared to conventional oil.”
After that initial squeeze, output declines sharply says McNally, “so in order to keep the overall flow, you are having to drill and drill and drill.”
All that drilling is expensive. This is how shale oil got the nickname "tough oil." If the price of oil continues to drop — it’s currently at $86 a barrel — it could make tough oil too expensive to drill for.
“You could pretty easily put out a number of, say, $75 a barrel. That’s kind of your break even when you consider all of your development, production costs, etc.,” says Chad Mabry, an analyst at MLV & Co.
Some regions in North Dakota and Texas — the “sweet spots” Mabry calls them — would likely remain profitable even if prices continue to drop. “I think one of the first places that you are going to see budget cuts are more on the exploration side of things.”
The demand for new wells would likely drop significantly if prices stay low, but that is largely dependent on outside forces.
“It always comes down to what Saudi Arabia’s decision is," says Mabry. "That’s going to be the real driver on where prices go.”
The White House effort to replace Attorney General Eric Holder is happening largely in the shadows. But Labor Secretary Thomas Perez is emerging as a top candidate for the post.
There's a long-percolating concept among personal finance gurus: The money you spend on small purchases, say, a latte every day or so, could be redirected towards huge savings. Think hundreds of thousands of dollars over 30 years, if invested. Proponents have included Suze Orman, Penelope Wang of Money Magazine, and most notably author David Bach.
But another personal finance writer, Helaine Olen, says no way.
"We weren't spending more money on luxuries," Olen said of the late 1990s. "We were spending less."
Using herself as an example, Olen says the cost of coffee and other small expenses pales in comparison with the rising cost of health care, education, and housing.
"Think of it this way: at $5 per latte, I would need to give up 260 caffeinated drinks per month to pay my monthly health insurance bill."
She recently traced the history of the concept in a Twitter essay.[&amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="//storify.com/annielowrey/the-latte-factor" target="_blank"&amp;amp;amp;gt;View the story "The Latte Factor" on Storify&amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;gt;]
The good people at Nielsen, the television ratings company, said today they've discovered a glitch. Bloomberg reports some of their ratings have been wrong for oh...the past six months or so.
People were counted as watching one network when, in fact, they were watching a different one. Looks like ABC was the big winner.
Nielsen ratings are, of course, worth bazoodles of dollars because that's what advertising rates are based on.
If Columbus Day for you is a time to stock up on towels - or better yet, get out of town - you’re in good company. And you’re doing exactly what Congress wanted you to do back in 1968, when it passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act: spend money.
“Well there was very strong support in Congress, but the initiative came from the tourism and vacation interests,” says Gerald Friedman, economics professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Groups like the hotel industry lobby and the American Automobile Association, he says. You could see why hotels that would normally be dead on a Sunday night would be all about this. “It was a very conscious decision that we wanted to promote vacations and leisure, and people felt a three-day holiday would lead to more traveling,” he says.
And it has. During a typical three-day weekend, AAA estimates more than 34 million Americans hit the road. And even if people don’t leave town, there’s always the mall. “So we have things like Veterans Day sales, we have Columbus Day sales, we have Memorial Day sales,” says John McNamara, senior education fellow at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
The National Retail Federation doesn’t track sales over Monday holidays, but they’re big shopping days.
McNamara says there's a downside: people are so busy spending, they forget why they have the day off. They don't think about what makes the day historically significant. That’s one reason Veteran’s Day was shifted back from a Monday holiday to its traditional Nov. 11.
So, if this stuff isn’t set in stone, maybe more three-day weekends are in store. “I’m kinda waiting for them to move Fourth of July to a Monday,” McNamara laughs.
But he says don’t plan that Fourth of July weekend getaway just yet, because it’s not likely to change.
To absolutely nobody's surprise, the week ended badly on Wall Street. All three major indices headed south Friday, and most of the other indexes as well.
The Wall Street Journal's Sudeep Reddy and Redfin's Nela Richardson joined Kai Ryssdal to talk about the week that was.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is facing public criticism after his comments suggesting that women should not ask for raises. But they also underscore questions about tech's male-dominated culture.
Once derided as Scottish food better suited to horses than people, porridge these days is more cool than gruel. In the U.K., competitions have porridge lovers battling with their best recipes.
A pediatrician who specializes in fixing broken bones in kids and teens says about 90 percent of the fractures he treats have been splinted improperly in a community ER or urgent care center first.
In 1997, Cylvia Hayes received money to marry an Ethiopian who wanted a green card. Her fiance, Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber, is seeking a fourth term. She says he didn't know of the marriage.