The above chart shows the ups and down of the S & P 500 throughout the year.
At the moment of writing there is a lot of uncertainty - and tension.
It is still Sunday in the United States and the markets have almost 24 hours before they reopen - so it is uncertain how the stock market will respond to the various events and uncertainties of the last few days; the meeting at Jackson Hole, Wyoming on Friday; the ongoing debt crisis in Europe; the latest job figures from the USA; and now - the economic fallout from Hurricane Irene, which although downgraded to a tropical storm and although it seemed to spare the metropolis of New York - will prove to be one of America's most expensive natural disasters.
And of course let us not forget the ongoing catastrophe in Japan and the events in Northern Africa and the Middle East as well as ongoing hunger and poverty caused by the rising price of food and fuel - that is beyond the reach of increasing numbers of people.
There is tremendous tension in the present situation, partially because we all have (even if we refuse to admit it) some lingering hope that things will keep going for a little while longer - I don't think I'll ever be ready for collapse to happen.
There is also the complete uncertainty.
When will things blow up? Will it mean a complete imploding of the financial system ('2008 on steroids'); will it mean war; or will things limp on for longer while as a species we ramp up the rape and pillage of our planet and its very finite resources?
In this neck of the woods it is almost unbearable (in the present context) to contemplate the construction of ever more roads, fracking in Taranaki and the extraction of coal from Southland or the Stockton plateau (or anywhere else the dinosaurs can get their greedy hands on) - especially when we have an acute sense of how unsustainable (in all senses of that debased word) that is.