Market historians will pinpoint the top of the market in January to the moment when it was reported that Jamie Dimon might run for president.
While quickly knocked down by JP Morgan Chase (JPM) , the idea that its CEO and the face of Wall Street could rise from mobs of investors braying for him to be jailed a decade ago after the financial crisis to a time when stocks pop on the idea he run the country shows just how far we had gone in this equity market hysteria.
Monday afternoon's breathtaking drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average to its biggest point-plunge of all-time -- closing down 1,175 points after dumping 1,600 in the last hour of trading -- was the fearful flip side for our algorithmic age.
Time was when 1,600 points meant something. I can remember when the Dow average was at 1,600 points (in spring 1986), vs. Monday's close of 24,345. Still, you can't ignore the biggest point drop in history, even if the percent drop of 4.6% didn't make the top five list. The drop of 800 points during the final hour (in just 11 minutes) certainly ranks up there with the "flash crash" in terms of speed, but offers little in meaning.
The Worst Day Award has to go to new Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, who walked right into the firestorm in his first day on the job Monday. Former chair Janet Yellen even tossed back a lit match on her way out the door, saying over the weekend in a television interview what everyone indeed knew all along. Stocks were high.
Some will point to the historical tendency for new Fed chairs to get hit with a crisis. Greenspan and the crash of '87. Bernanke and the financial crisis. Yellen and the bond bubble.
Others will point to the computerized trading that yanks stocks lower for as little reason as it pushed them higher over the 15 months since the election of Donald Trump.
I'm partial to the "Dilly Dilly" theory of market chaos, which holds that when the Bud Light guys from that commercial have grown so famous they will ring the closing bell at the NYSE, and everybody cheers "Dilly Dilly," as they did Friday, it might be time to re-evaluate why we have our money there.
The more realistic scenario for the "pit of misery" the past two trading days is that investors used a spike in interest rates last week as an excuse to take some money off the table after an unbelievable run. A corresponding drop in oil prices and oil shares such as Chevron Corp. (CVX) and Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) only added to the rush. Before you knew it, we were all watching the Dow fall like an incomplete Tom Brady "Hail Mary," to lose the Super Bowl.
As bad as it was, the lack of capitulation among buyers or buying programs indicates there could be more to come. The Dow was down 6% at one point. All we've lost so far are January's gains. Remember how psyched everyone was at New Year's? We're back there.
The S&P 500 fell just 4.1%, far less than the 7% decline that triggers the NYSE circuit breakers.
Unlike the crash of '87, and the financial crisis, there is little to point to in this selloff other than stocks just surged too far, too fast. We might see more declines; maybe quickly, but maybe for a bit longer.
Seasoned investors know better than to over-react when shares plunge like this. It will only yield better buying opportunities in the end. They will look for a heavy down day as the trigger to wash out the remaining sell orders and jump in with the same volatile buying that we saw to end the financial crisis in the spring of 2009.
Sometimes stocks just fall. We can search for fundamentals. We can point fingers at politicians, presidents and Fed officials. We can construct an economic theory to make ourselves feel smart. But sometimes they just fall, and no theory, technical chart, algorithm, or superstitious Wall Street lore can explain why.
So hang in there. And remember, the Super Bowl Indicator says the Eagles win is good for the market.
Jim Cramer and the AAP team on Monday evening reiterated to their investment club members that despite the move lower during the day and on and Friday, they are buyers down at these levels. This is exactly the kind of action they readied their portfolio for when they added to their cash position a week ago. Find out what they're telling their investment club members and get in on the conversation with a free trial subscription to Action Alerts PLUS.
Over on Real Money, Cramer says don't worry about missing anything, we haven't solved the bond conundrum and the evidence says we get to 3% with selloffs on the way. Get more of his insights with a free trial subscription to Real Money.
With the Dow plunging Monday, here is what TheStreet had to share.