We were told that a trader put in a “B” (for billion) instead of an “M” (for million). Then we’re told it was tied to the E-Mini futures. Let’s say we’re naive enough to believe the B vs M scenario is accurate. The total market capitalization of the US stock market is probably somewhere around $20T. If a billion dollar trade can lead to a decline of 5% of the US stock market, which is equivalent to about $1T or about 7% of GDP, we have a big problem.
It may have been the traders that panicked today. But when Main Street realizes whose mercy they are really at, and to what degree (since it seems 2009 wasn’t a good enough lesson), what may result is a real sell off. Uncertainty and risk are solidly embedded in today’s equity and real estate markets. Today should be a wake-up call for those that have continued to acquire real estate assets for 5% cap rates that the world has not returned to normal. With the US requiring a solid growth rate just to maintain the current and horrendous unemployment rate, the road back will be long and hard. Aside from pockets of activity, pressure on rents are very likely to remain.
Mix in all the other unknowns which may be coming down the pipes like an implosion of the EUR and cheaper imports from the Euro-zone, further sovereign debt defaults, and retreating retail sales in Q3, a very bumpy road may lie ahead for real estate owners.