It’s impossible to get away from oil headlines today. They’re everywhere. Even smart people are succumbing to the temptation of oversimplifying the current state of financial markets. To their credit, oil is a major ingredient in the broader phenomenon of the “risk-off” trading we discussed this morning.
With that in mind, we’re actually seeing the movements being led by other markets, like Eurodollars, European bond markets, and equities. On several occasions today, stock prices and bond yields have moved decisively higher or lower while oil prices stood still. Oil has returned the favor on some occasions, but less frequently.
Bottom line: interconnectedness. Cause and effect aren’t a one-way street right now. Oil is adding to the panic, but it’s not creating it without help. Think “youth soccer.” There are no positions or passes or strategic movements–just a cluster of high-urgency attitudes following the ball. Today, that ball continues rolling toward the “risk-off” goal.