Attention FAE Customers:
Please be aware that NASBA credits are awarded based on whether the events are webcast or in-person, as well as on the number of CPE credits.
Please check the event registration page to see if NASBA credits are being awarded for the programs you select.

Want to save this page for later?


The Daily

The Stock Market vs. the Real Economy and Why It's Not 2008 Again (Yet)

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Aug 26, 2015
Charts and stuffMarket news over the past few days, sparked off by trouble in China, has been dire indeed. While the U.S. Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) had a strong start today, it also had a strong start yesterday when, at the closing bell, early morning gains were wiped out by later losses that left investors wall-eyed so, needless to say, people remain wary of further trouble as the day goes on. 

But while sharp dips in indexes from Shangai to New York are certainly worrisome, before deciding we're in the midst of a global economic crisis akin to the 2008 meltdown, it may be prudent to remember that the stock market and the real economy, while linked, remain distinct, according to NPR. While the recent market turbulence is no cause for celebration, NPR notes that home sales are rising steadily, and the prices at which these homes are bought are now comparable to what they were a decade ago, before the bubble burst. CNN Money adds that job growth has been relatively strong, and notes that in the midst of the crisis they were being cut almost immediately after the initial troubles in 2008, with 450,000 being lost in the first month alone. NPR also pointed out that, when stocks were reaching record highs, the real economy remained stubbornly stagnant in the U.S., underscoring the disconnect between the two. 

Further, notes both CNN Money and NPR, oil prices are very low right now, which is bad for the energy sector, but good for the consumer, who save money on gas and other utilities which can then be put into the economy. Perhaps they'll shop at Wal-Mart: Slate notes that the retailer may wind up benefiting from the recent troubles as lower oil prices and a devalued yuan makes the goods it buys less expensive, while its own sales have historically tended to rise when the economy is turbulent. 

Still, this separation probably cannot be sustained for long. While the market and real economy are distinct, they're still connected and, what's more, a lot of companies, such as Wal-Mart, have feet planted in both worlds. While their effect is subtle, over time both can have significant influence over the other. Booms and busts in the stock market can, and do, spill over into the real economy and vice versa. Also, considering pensions tend to be heavily invested in the stock market too, people who aren't Wall Street investors looking stressed out and putting their hands on their heads as they stare at glowing numbers crawling across the walls aren't going to escape completely unscathed anyway. 

But, for now, it seems that the damage is mostly confined to the market. Again, for now. Who knows what we'll be writing tomorrow? If we could predict the future, this mess probably wouldn't even be happening in the first place. In fact, the entire economy and its attendant socio-political systems would be completely different as well. The world wouldn't even be recognizable to us. Pop music, at the very least, would be really weird. Weirder. But, until we, or hyper-intelligent computers we design, develop complete clairvoyance, I guess all we can do is watch. And wait.