This post has been corrected.
The opening days of 2016 are the worst-ever for the venerable Dow Jones Industrial Average. That’s according to Howard Silverblatt, the man who meticulously tracks the performance of the Dow, the S&P 500 and sundry other market metrics at S&P Dow Jones Indices. To be clear, the first 12 days of trading in a given year have never been this lousy for returns, based on records stretching all the way back to 1897.
It’s been no picnic outside the US, either. Chinese stocks have lopped off nearly 16% of their value already, and benchmarks elsewhere aren’t too far behind.
Fears about China, where growth has fallen to its slowest pace in a quarter century, continue to contribute to the slide in US stocks. The Dow was down more than 500 points at 12:30pm ET on Jan. 20, while the broader S&P 500 was down nearly 3.5%.
There’s a ways to go before the S&P 500 officially falls into a bear market, but that doesn’t make the most recent drop any less ugly.
In the background of all this is the Federal Reserve. Janet Yellen & Co. raised the central bank’s interest rate target back in December, but the task of raising the rate itself might be easier said than done—investors are flooding into US Treasury debt in a quest for safety, and have now driven the yield on 10-year note (paywall) below 2% for the first time since September, and to its lowest point since late April.
The chief economist for the International Monetary Fund said on Jan. 19 that investors are overreacting to recent developments (not too long after the IMF downgraded its global growth forecast yet again), but it doesn’t appear anyone’s listening.
An earlier version of this post said Chinese stocks had lost a quarter of their value year to date; they have fallen 15.9% this year.