There is a lot of colourful language around the City at the moment – "What the effing hell is going on?" – and you can tell how nervous everyone is from their mannerisms.
It was just a relief when the market closed here on Thursday evening, but when we left to go home the Dow Jones was down 260, then 300, then 400, then 515 – and everyone was sitting at home watching it and trying to figure out what was happening.
Of course, 2008 was bad, but this is even worse because of the uncertainty. That shouldn't be the case because we know what the underlying problems are – that the EU and US are in trouble, and that Italy and Spain are too big to bail out. Apart from the days following 9/11, some people have not seen this sort of volatility for 30 or 40 years.
There's a lack of confidence in the City because of the lack of information. Usually there are patterns you can follow in trading: if X happens, it equals A, B and C. But over the last 10 days we haven't known what is going on because the politicians are talking behind closed doors. Their decisions are not reflecting back to the market, and that's making people nervous.
Before the European Central Bank conference on Thursday, the market was expecting its president, Jean-Claude Trichet, to tell us whether they were going to start buying back assets before the market closed – but then he was non-committal and people on the floor and clients started asking, what's the situation here? It's become even more confusing with five or six EU members saying the opposite of each other. The whole point of having the EU people together is that they are supposed to offer a universal voice.
There is a lot of worry about sackings in the market which doesn't help. If people don't know what's going on, they tend to stop trading to avoid doing anything wrong – but if they are not generating any revenue then they're told to get out, so it's a real catch-22, a vicious circle.
The arrival of the weekend has not brought any relief because of the rumour that the US will have its credit rating downgraded and because Germany, France and Spain are having a crisis EU meeting in private – so it all remains very cloak and dagger.
The writer works for an independent stockbroker in the City and wished to remain anonymousReuse content