“Wednesday was an unsettling day on global financial markets, and not just because the stock market fell sharply enough to bring a decade-plus bull market to an end.
Underneath the headline numbers were a series of movements that don’t really make sense when lined up against one another. They amount to signs — not definitive, but worrying — that something is breaking down in the workings of the financial system, even if it’s not totally clear what that is just yet.
Bond prices and stock prices were moving together, not in opposite directions as they usually do. On a day when major economic disruptions resulting from the coronavirus pandemic appeared to become likelier — which might be expected to make typical market safe havens more popular — many of them fell instead. That included bonds of all sorts and gold.
And there were reports from trading desks that many assets that are normally liquid — easy to buy and sell — were freezing up, with securities not trading widely. This was true of the bonds issued by municipalities and major corporations but, more curiously, also of Treasury bonds, normally the bedrock of the global financial system.”