Howard Marks Explains "What's Behind The Downturn"

Oaktree's Howard Marks once again cuts through what he perceives is the market's irrationality to explain what, to him, was the cause of the historic market collapse in early August: "Markets usually do a pretty good job of coping with problems one at a time. When one arises, analysts analyze and investors reach conclusions and calmly adjust their portfolios. But when there’s a confluence of negative events, the markets can become overwhelmed and lose their cool. Things that might be tolerable individually combine into an unfathomable mess whose extent and ramifications seem beyond analysis. Market crises are chaotic, not orderly, and the multiplicity and simultaneity of contributing causes play a big part in making them so.  It’s my sense that it was the simultaneous nature of these occurrences – in addition to, or perhaps rather than, their force individually – that rendered the markets so incapable of maintaining their equanimity.Certainly that was the case in early August. For the first time in history, the Dow Industrials either rose or fell by at least 400 points four days in a row... Importantly, we saw the onset of one of those negative feedback loops where intelligence is imputed to market developments. We’re told the falling prices reflect problems lying ahead, and thus investors sell in response to the message being provided by . . . investors who’re selling. Again, I think it was the collective force of these things that convinced people the world was a scary place. What could be worse than the convergence of a number of major worries whose extent, interaction and solution seem beyond comprehension."



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