It only feels volatile if you’re not an octogenarian:
YTD 7 trading days have been up at least 1% and 10 down at least 1%. That ranks third (7+10 / 28 = 60.7%) behind the full year of 1932 (66.1%; 30.6% up and 35.6% down) and 1933 (63.5%; 34.0% up and 29.5% down).
YTD the S&P 500 is down 8.80%, and if the market closes up a bit today (1339.36 vs yesterdays close of 1339.13), we would finally no longer be the worst YTD in history (currently 1957 at -8.79% - but a great wine year) - you take what you can get.
FYI: With AIG’s charge announcement yesterday, the Financials, that are projected to post a $10.9B deficit in Q4 (vs. a gain of $54.2B in Q4 2007) could get worse. Moving forward there is already some estimates / discussions of Q1 charges. Note that the mark-to-market point for many brokerages is February 29 due to their November fiscal, so for them the evaluation is Nov,’07 vs. Feb,’08.