Welcome to 2016! With Just a Touch of Mayhem

In China, stocks crashed on day one of 2016. No one really knows why. Some hardy souls blamed the manufacturing index that came in even lousier than in November. But manufacturing has been consistently lousy, and bad numbers are nothing new and not a reason for the sudden plunge in stocks.

Whatever the reasons, the Shanghai Composite plunged 6.9%, the Shenzhen Composite 8.2%. At that point, panicked authorities halted all trading via a circuit breaker announced in December. Everything is stuck. No one knows what any of these stocks are worth. Not exactly a confidence-inspiring move.

And in one single day, the indices blew a big part of their gains since the crash last summer. This rattled investors in other parts of Asia. The Japanese Nikkei dropped 3.1%, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng 2.7%.

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