Another variable is how much easier monetary policies in other developed countries will become. The Bank of Japan, the European Central Bank, the Bank of England, and the Swiss National Bank are already easing policy as their economies’ growth lags that of the US. How much further they go may well be influenced in part by domestic conditions and in part by the extent to which weaker growth in China exacerbates downside risks in Asian economies, commodity exporters, and the US and the eurozone. A further slowdown in China and other emerging economies is another risk to financial markets.
Then there is the question of how emerging-market policymakers respond to the turbulence: Will they raise rates to stem inflationary depreciation and capital outflows, or will they cut rates to boost flagging GDP growth, thus increasing the risk of inflation and of a sudden capital-flow reversal?
Two final factors include how soon the eurozone economy bottoms out (there have been some recent signs of stabilization, but the monetary union’s chronic problems remain unresolved), and whether Middle East tensions and the threat of nuclear proliferation in the region—and responses to that threat by the U.S. and Israel—escalate or are successfully contained.
A new period of uncertainty and volatility has begun, and it seems likely to lead to choppy economies and choppy markets. Indeed, a broader de-risking cycle for financial markets could be at hand.