At moments like these I think it makes sense to put things into perspective. That does not discount the worry that comes along with violent downward moves.
The violent downward moves are exacerbated by the large amount of program trading that exists in the market. These programs can feed on each other and cause even more selling.
A couple of weeks ago I sent out a market update talking about the dramatic number of stocks that were down over 10% from their highs although the S&P 500 was hardly down. The last week and what will come today will change that. The level of the index will now more directly reflect the level of the stocks that compose it.
People will attribute this selloff to China, the emerging markets, commodities, a global economic slowdown and worry about whether or not the Federal Reserve is still providing a backstop to the market. Regardless of the reason, all of which I am not sure have anything to do with the selloff, sometimes selling begets selling and panic can beget panic.
The US economy remains unchanged from 2 weeks ago. The market has now more opportunity than it did 2 weeks ago. It may go down further from here, but we will look for the opportunities that selloffs can create.
To help keep things in perspective here is a chart of the S&P 500 over the past year and also the S&P over the last 5 years. Looking at the market in a longer term hopefully makes these down moves seem a little less painful.
S&P 500 Over the Last 5 Years