Good thing the debt-ceiling deal reassured the market.
Stocks, which have been declining steadily for the past two weeks, plunged today on poor job-creation reports in the U.S., a slowdown in manufacturing in both the U.S. and Europe, apprehension about China's ability to keep buying construction and manufacturing equipment, the poor economic performance of Southern European nations, and the fear that the euro -- and just maybe European continentalism, too -- won't withstand the doubts about Italy's economy, Europe's fourth largest. In Europe, stocks took their biggest one-day hit in the past 15 months. In the U.S., the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 512 points today, a decline of 4.3 percent - its steepest one-day drop since late 2008. The broader S&P index declined 60 points, a fall of 4.8 percent. News was just as bad at the NASDAQ, whose (largely tech) stocks fell by 137 points -- 5.1 percent.
Any stocks up today? In the face of a general rout, Kraft Foods rose by about a dollar -- an increase in value of more than 2 percent. You've heard of the "flight to quality"? Call this a flight to cheap necessities. In the current economy, more Americans will be eating mac and cheese, Oreos, Maxwell House coffee, and Jell-O, all of which Kraft manufactures. Oat cuisine, like haute cuisine, is a pretty good bet in our bipolar, no-middle economy.