After two years of the bulls reigning supreme, the bears are flexing their muscles after a ratings downgrade of Spanish debt reminded investors of an ongoing European debt crisis. (Greek debt was downgraded earlier this week).
Worries about the global economy at large also flared up after China announced its largest trade deficit in 7 years.
And in the U.S., applications for unemployment benefits jumped for the first time in three weeks. The trade deficit with the rest of the world swelled much more than anticipated, too.
Finally, the surprise resignation of General Motors Chief Financial Officer Chris Liddell added to the jitters and pushed shares of GM below the price of its initial public offering.
Bottom line: Wall Street is in the midst of a big meltdown. But the selling is not related to the usual suspects from days past – the crisis in Libya or oil prices.