Worries about debt-engorged Chinese property developers and the damage they could do to investors worldwide if they default rippled across markets Monday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 614 points, or 1.78%, to 33,970, the S&P 500 fell 75 points, or1.7% to 4,357 while the Nasdaq fell 330 points, 2.9% to 14,713.90
The worries over Chinese property developers and debt have recently centered on Evergrande, one of China’s biggest real estate developers, which looks like it may be unable to repay its debts.
The fear is that a potential collapse there could send a chain reaction through the Chinese property-development industry and spill over into the broader financial system, similar to how the failure of Lehman Brothers inflamed the 2008 financial crisis and Great Recession.
Those property companies have been big drivers of the Chinese economy, which is the world’s second-largest.
Investors are also concerned that the U.S. Federal Reserve could signal this week that it’s planning to pull back some of the support measures it’s been giving markets and the economy.
All the concerns have pushed some on Wall Street to predict upcoming drops for stocks. Morgan Stanley strategists said Monday that conditions may be ripening to cause a fall of 20% or more for the S&P 500.
They pointed to weakening confidence among shoppers, the potential for higher taxes plus inflation to eat into corporate profits and other signs that the economy’s growth may slow sharply.
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