Gloomy Signs for Global Economy

Ripple effects possible even for relatively strong American economy


It wasn't very long ago that the dread hovering over global financial markets was that things were getting too calm. Just this summer, Federal Reserve officials were fretting over markets being so stable that it might create complacency, and we were writing about a global boom in asset prices.

Even if many Americans don't fully realize it yet, the autumn has brought a rather darker set of worries with a series of unnerving dives in financial markets across the globe. The American stock market has held up reasonably well, and the ups and downs of the Dow and S.&P. 500 play an outsize role in shaping American media coverage and American perceptions of the economy. But many crucial indicators in markets for international bonds, currency and commodities are pointing toward a heightened risk of a worldwide economic slowdown that may be beyond the ability of policy makers to halt.