The catalyst for the swoon was the continued turmoil at China Evergrande Group, one of that country’s top three developers of residential properties. The company has an estimated $300 billion in debt, and an interest payment of more than $80 million is due this week.
Analysts said Evergrande’s plight was severe enough that it would be unlikely to survive without Chinese government support. “The question is to what degree are there spillover risks within Chinese equities and then cascading into the global markets,” said John Canavan, lead analyst at Oxford Economics.
Few entities move markets the way the American and Chinese governments can, by their actions and inaction, and the worldwide tumble on Monday made this clear. Until recently, investors seemed content to ignore a variety of issues complicating the recovery — including the emergence of the Delta variant and the supply chain snarls that have bedeviled consumers and manufacturers alike.
But beginning this month, as Evergrande began to teeter and the likelihood of the Fed’s scaling back — or tapering — its bond-buying programs grew, the market’s protective bubble began to deflate. Some U.S. investors are also concerned that tax increases are in the offing — including on share buybacks and corporate profits — to help pay for a spending push by the federal government, the signature piece of which is President Biden’s proposed $3.5 trillion budget bill. Separately, Congress also must act to raise the government’s borrowing limit, a politically charged process that has at times thrown markets for a loop.