In an unquiet world the marketplace feels the fear

Markets are easily spooked at the best of times, and there is enough going on in the world right now to keep them, and national economies, in a continuous state of anxiety.

17th August, 2014
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On a quiet day in the spring of 2013, a sudden market panic saw the Standard & Poor's 500 Index fall about 1 per cent, briefly wiping out $136 billion in value. The reason? An erroneous tweet, saying there had been an attack on the White House.

The panic soon abated, but the lesson remains. Markets hate surprises and uncertainty can take a heavy toll. Last week, poor confidence figures in German showed how the ''unknowns caused by the...

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