Editor's note: This was originally published on RealMoney. It is being republished as a bonus for TheStreet.com readers.The newspapers blame the weakening economy and somber earnings forecasts for the sharp selloffs we've been experiencing. Declining earnings and recession fears play into the declines, to be sure, but the real story -- which does not get the headlines it truly deserves -- is the mass liquidation that is occurring within the highly leveraged hedge fund community. The mind-boggling size of the redemptions -- resulting in the need to sell at any price, especially if leverage is involved -- renders obsolete even the most seasoned professional's playbook. Gaming investor sentiment and using valuation as a guide have proved to be folly in the face of the avalanche of forced selling. The good news is that valuations will matter eventually, and the incredible amount of cash that is currently on the sidelines will be put to work. For now, though, it is imperative that investors realize that the selling we are seeing now is not the work of rational human beings. Rather, it is the result of the largest deleveraging in financial history.