Global markets are tanking; 'no rational choice anymore'

GlobalPost
Investors monitor screens showing stock market movements at a brokerage house in Shanghai on Aug. 13, 2015. 
JOHANNES EISELE

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Need to know:

Global markets have taken a nose dive on fears that China's economic slowdown is even worse than expected. A more than 8 percent drop in Chinese shares (their biggest one-day drop since 2007) has analysts calling today China's "Black Monday." If that label puts a pit in your stomach, it should. US and European markets followed China's example Monday morning.

This is all very dramatic talk, but how bad is it? In the grand scheme, Monday's fall isn't the worst we've seen — the start of the Great Depression, for instance, was way worse (the Dow fell 12 percent in a day, as opposed to the FTSE which fell nearly 3 percent today). What is more significant than what happens in a single day, however, is what kind of trend sets in — and right now, that trend is "selling."

“Everyone seems to be selling off, and there’s panic,” analyst Michael Woischneck told Bloomberg. “There’s no rational choice anymore, no rational reaction. The Americans will add to the European selling.”

Is there a silver lining? "For younger investors, falls like this are great," Mark Dampier, investment analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, told BBC. "You're buying the market way cheaper. You should be adding."

France, meanwhile, is hailing a few foreign heroes today. The three Americans and one Briton who overpowered a gunman on a high-speed train in France on Monday each received the Legion of Honor,  France's highest decoration.  

On the train from Amsterdam to Paris on Friday, the passengers saw the gunman loading his Kalashnikov rifle. They wrestled him to the floor and successfully thwarted what would have almost certainly been a bloodbath. Over the weekend, French authorities questioned the suspected gunman, Ayoub El Khazzani, a 25-year-old Moroccan with alleged ties to terror cells. Khazzani's lawyer said her client was "dumbfounded" by the accusations that he was a terrorist and claimed to have been planning to rob people on the train.

French President Francois Hollande awarded the men their honors, saying: "You have shown us that, faced with terror, we have the power to resist. You have given a message of courage, solidarity and hope."

Want to know:

The thousands of migrants who pushed their way from Greece into Macedonia over the weekend are just the tip of the iceberg. The UN reports that 264,500 people — mostly Syrians — have crossed the Mediterranean by boat and made it into Europe this year. Most od them land in southern Italy or the Greek islands. Still, more of Europe's refugees arrive by land or air. Germany takes in most of them. The government estimates a record 800,000 people will request asylum there this year. 

It's a problem that affects a lot of people in a lot of countries. You'd think that might mean they would work together to solve it, but no. Nations across Europe are taking an every-man-for-himself approach to the growing refugee crisis, thwarting attempts at burden-sharing. GlobalPost's Paul Ames reports that governments lined up to reject a planned quota system that would oblige each EU country to take in a limited number of refugees.

Why? They each have their reasons: Spain said high unemployment meant it couldn't find jobs for newcomers. Politicians in the Baltic states agonized over the impact on society of a sudden influx of non-European faces. Hungary's prime minister Viktor Orban said the plan was "insane." He promptly ordered the construction of a 110-mile fence along the southern border to keep refugees out. Now that takes teamwork.

Strange but true:

All this talk about how pandas would rather eat bamboo and watch TV than have sex. Meanwhile, Mei Xiang has been busy! On Saturday night, the female panda gave birth to surprise twins!

Here's a kind of confusing birth video.

Actually, twins aren't the best news in panda land. Apparently what usually happens is that the mother picks one cub to care for and rear and will let the other one die. At the National Zoo in DC where the twins were born, though, zookeepers are following a template established by the Chinese whereby they swap out the cubs every few hours. That gives each cub much-needed bonding hours with mama while keeping up the pretense for Mei Xiang that she has in fact chosen to care for just one cub. 

So far, so good. The twins are doing well and zookeepers are optimistic!