Horizon Kinetics (Murray Stahl) on the market’s high level of volatility and what it means

Following the market swings experienced in August, many investors are understandably rattled. Despite the last-minute agreement to raise the U.S. debt ceiling and avert default, one of the major credit rating agencies downgraded U.S. government debt one notch below its highest AAA rating to AA+. Most agree that the risk of U.S. default on its securities remains remote. However, the protracted negotiations around the debt ceiling, fears about the prospects for corporate profits and continued concerns regarding austerity measures and solvency in some European countries contributed to wide market fluctuations. In just a few days, the S&P 500 gave back its year-to-date gains and then some. In this month’s commentary, we offer our thoughts on recent market conditions as compared to those experienced during the last period of high volatility: the financial crisis of 2008.

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