PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Investment accounts around the world are in a tailspin and losing value quickly. A sharp decline in China’s economy is having a big impact in the United States and around the world. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed down nearly 400 points on Friday, adding up to a 1,400 point loss in just the first two weeks of the year.
This is the worst start to a year in the history of U.S. financial markets. All the major indexes are down more than 10-percent.
CBS Financial Analyst Jill Schlesenger says China’s sputtering economy is a big reason why.
“That market is now in a bear market, down 20-percent from its December high,” she says. “And then on top of that, we’ve got a real surprising decline in retail sales.”
And drivers might be thrilled that gas is less than $2 a gallon in some parts of the region, but Schlesinger says those low fuel costs are part of the reason why your 401(k) is in the dumps.
“I think the market may be over reacting, but that’s what markets do,” she says. “They over react on the upside and they over react on the downside. So the word of the week is volatility. It’s just been an awful two weeks for investors.”
Oil is down to less than $30 a barrel and many experts see crude prices as a measuring stick for the strength of the global economy.
Schlesenger says while lower gas prices look good on the surface, most people aren’t spending those savings elsewhere, and that’s a problem for the markets.