Global Stock Markets Off to Worst Start in History [Chart]
The first four trading days show optimism for 2016 is in short supply.
The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.
In our review of the economic events of 2015, we noted that the simple turning of a calendar page does not rectify the problems of the previous year.
The first week of trading on major exchanges has made this even more clear.
China’s Rough Start
China kicked off the volatility this week with multiple devaluations of the yuan to reduce the strain on its foreign reserves, after burning through $120 billion in the month of December.
In reaction to this news, as well as the updated manufacturing data out of China at the beginning of the week, the Chinese stock market plunged to start 2016. The “blue chip” CSI 300 index fell 7% on Monday to trigger a market intervention mechanism that halted trading. On Thursday the problems continued when the market opened down 5% almost instantly, triggering the same mechanism to provide a 15 minute trading break. Markets re-opened, plunged again, and got halted for the rest of the day.
Here’s what that whole 29 minute session looked like on Thursday, including the 15 minute break:
This morning, the yuan was strengthened and it had a semi-calming effect. The CSI 300 finished up Friday’s trading in positive territory, but it is still down -9.9% for the first complete week of 2016.
The Spillover Effect
The whiplash from China’s tumultuous market was enough to put other global markets in a tizzy. This week’s Chart of the Week shows the first four days of trading on major world markets.
The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average both opened 2016 with their worst four-day starts in history. The Nasdaq also was also down 6.4% in the first four days of trading, which took it into correction territory.
Canada’s TSX continued on its 19% decline since April 2015 and European markets have been hard-hit as well. Germany’s DAX was down 7.1% to start the year, and the FTSE 100 declined 4.8%.
Meanwhile, crude oil (WTI) is now $33, which is its lowest price in 14 years.
Yearly Starts Trending Worse
Another point we noted in the chart above is that the starts for the S&P 500 have been trending more towards negative territory each year since the Financial Crisis.
In recent times, it seems investors are starting each new year more anxious to pull the “sell” trigger. Proceed with caution in 2017.
Ranked: America’s 20 Biggest Tech Layoffs Since 2020
How bad are the current layoffs in the tech sector? This visual reveals the 20 biggest tech layoffs since the start of the pandemic.
Ranked: America’s 20 Biggest Tech Layoffs This Decade
The events of the last few years could not have been predicted by anyone. From a global pandemic and remote work as the standard, to a subsequent hiring craze, rising inflation, and now, mass layoffs.
Alphabet, Google’s parent company, essentially laid off the equivalent of a small town just weeks ago, letting go of 12,000 people—the biggest layoffs the company has ever seen in its history. Additionally, Amazon and Microsoft have also laid off 10,000 workers each in the last few months, not to mention Meta’s 11,000.
This visual puts the current layoffs in the tech industry in context and ranks the 20 biggest tech layoffs of the 2020s using data from the tracker, Layoffs.fyi.
The Top 20 Layoffs of the 2020s
Since 2020, layoffs in the tech industry have been significant, accelerating in 2022 in particular. Here’s a look at the companies that laid off the most people over the last three years.
|Rank||Company||# Laid Off||% of Workforce||As of|
Layoffs were high in 2020 thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, halting the global economy and forcing staff reductions worldwide. After that, things were steady until the economic uncertainty of last year, which ultimately led to large-scale layoffs in tech—with many of the biggest cuts happening in the past three months.
The Cause of Layoffs
Most workforce slashings are being blamed on the impending recession. Companies are claiming they are forced to cut down the excess of the hiring boom that followed the pandemic.
Additionally, during this hiring craze competition was fierce, resulting in higher salaries for workers, which is now translating in an increased need to trim the fat thanks to the current economic conditions.
Of course, the factors leading up to these recent layoffs are more nuanced than simple over-hiring plus recession narrative. In truth, there appears to be a culture shift occurring at many of America’s tech companies. As Rani Molla and Shirin Ghaffary from Recode have astutely pointed out, tech giants really want you to know they’re behaving like scrappy startups again.
Twitter’s highly publicized headcount reduction in late 2022 occurred for reasons beyond just macroeconomic factors. Elon Musk’s goal of doing more with a smaller team seemed to resonate with other founders and executives in Silicon Valley, providing an opening for others in tech space to cut down on labor costs as well. In just one example, Mark Zuckerberg hailed 2023 as the “year of efficiency” for Meta.
Meanwhile, over at Google, 12,000 jobs were put on the chopping block as the company repositions itself to win the AI race. In the words of Google’s own CEO:
“Over the past two years we’ve seen periods of dramatic growth. To match and fuel that growth, we hired for a different economic reality than the one we face today… We have a substantial opportunity in front of us with AI across our products and are prepared to approach it boldly and responsibly.”– Sundar Pichai
The Bigger Picture in the U.S. Job Market
Beyond the tech sector, job openings continue to rise. Recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) revealed a total of 11 million job openings across the U.S., an increase of almost 7% month-over-month. This means that for every unemployed worker in America right now there are 1.9 job openings available.
Additionally, hiring increased significantly in January, with employers adding 517,000 jobs. While the BLS did report a decrease in openings in information-based industries, openings are increasing rapidly especially in the food services, retail trade, and construction industries.
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