Wall Street had another big fall overnight. Concern about the possibility of recession is the generic fear at present, following something of a public spat between Messrs Greenspan and Bernanke.

Of more immediate concern is the fate of “subprime lenders” (click here for everything you need to know on this arcane subject): “Trading has halted in New Century Financial, with the second largest US subprime lender teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, sparking fresh fears about whether turmoil in the sector could spread and dampen US economic growth”.

The Raff Report‘s take on the issue is not dissimilar:

Nothing is ever perfect and there are risks galore in financial markets.

A huge number of fixed interest rate home loans are coming up for renewal and guess what? They are not going to get renewed at the low rates of years ago. And to make matters worse many of these households have borrowed a pile of dosh against their home equity and bankruptcies are starting to soar. Might this have anything to do with the recent sell-off on the Shanghai A-Share stock market?

But, as The Oz reports, she’ll be right here, brothers and sisters: “Australia’s $10 billion low-doc home loan industry could be spared the financial instability emerging in the US because of key structural and product differences in our market.”

The IHT today covers the conflict between former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and his successor Ben Bernanke about the future of the US economy:

The disagreement between Alan Greenspan and Ben Bernanke about where the U.S. economy is headed boils down to just one word: profit.

For the 81-year-old former chairman of the Federal Reserve, a peak in profit margins is a sign that the economic expansion may be past its prime and the risks of recession are growing. For his 53-year-old successor, the topping out of margins may instead herald better times for U.S. workers as wage growth starts to catch up with the five-year boom in corporate profits.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average hit a record close (its 31st since early October) on 21 February. Now, exactly three weeks later, the Dow sits 712 points (or 5.5%) lower.

Read more at Henry Thornton.

Peter Fray

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