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Megan McArdle

You Can't Time the Market

Here's a sure-fire tip: Don't try.
They panic, so you don't have to.

They panic, so you don't have to.

Photographer: Scott Olson/Getty Images

As I write this column, the S&P 500 was down almost 3 percent from its Friday close -- or, for the optimists in the room, up more than 2 percent from its morning bottom. One is tempted to send the market a gentle note inviting it to really spend some time getting to know itself, maybe work through some issues in therapy, channel its highs and lows in a productive direction.

The proximate cause of this chaos is the meltdown in the Chinese stock market, which has prompted a global selloff in financial markets. You financial pros probably have a lot of important questions. Does this herald a Chinese recession, and if so, what does that mean for the rest of the world's major economies? If America's economy slows down, how much room will the Fed have to loosen after seven years of holding interest rates to the zero lower bound? What does this tell us about the limits of both fiscal and monetary policy in the face of long-term real shocks and structural weaknesses in the underlying economy?