Unless you've been living under a rock, you know why the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) is down this morning. After losing 200 points yesterday, the index has dropped another 216 points just after 11:30 a.m. EDT. The Federal Open Market Committee announcement and subsequent news conference by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has sent a shiver down the market's spine, though much of the information presented was similar to what we already knew.
The big revelation yesterday was that the Fed now has a target for the end of its bond purchasing plan -- possibly the middle of next year. And while Bernanke was certain to reassert the point that any cuts would be subject to increased improvement in the economy, being able to see an end to the current "easy money" environment was an uneasy moment for investors. Since the recent bull market was largely helped by the current policy, any indication of an end to said policy was sure to send investors running.
The impact of Bernanke's conference was felt much farther than just in the U.S. market. The Japanese Nikkei index lost 1.7% today in trading. Japan has had its own share of troubles from monetary policy, so the loss of U.S. investor confidence may have sent a shockwave across the globe. Banks that are invested abroad are some of today's big losers in the Dow, thanks to a double-whammy effect.
Bank of America (NYSE:BAC) and JPMorgan (NYSE:JPM) both operate in the Asian markets, with 4% and 6%, respectively, of total revenue generation coming from that market. We've already seen what Asian market weakness can do to these banks, particularly Citigroup (NYSE:C), which is the leading bank laggard this morning. Since Citi derives 18% to 20% of its revenue from Asian operations, it is being pummeled by the latest declines.
What the double whammy can demonstrate for investors is the global effect of fear. Not only are investors afraid that the end of the current stimulus policy will result in a pullback, but they're also afraid of the global implications. To a certain extent, we're already seeing how fear can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy, with investors trying to get out before the pullback and possibly initiating it by doing so.
It's no secret that the Fool promotes a long-term buy-and-hold strategy. And with the uncertainty surrounding the changes facing the U.S. market, it can be tough to stand tall while others are fleeing. But if your investment had a strong foothold before this chaos broke loose, you have a better chance of profiting by holding firm and ignoring the crowd.