DEFINITION of 'Stockalypse'

An abrupt and steep decline in the price of a stock or equity index. A stockalpyse can wipe out tens of millions in market capitalization when it slams an individual stock, and billions in market value when its impact is felt across the broad markets. The length of a stockalypse can vary from a few weeks to many months, depending on the factors that have precipitated it. A broad stockalypse can exert a substantial drag on an economy, as the destruction of stock market value causes a negative wealth effect that in turn impacts consumer spending. The term is a combination of “stock” and “apocalypse".

BREAKING DOWN 'Stockalypse'

In the case of a specific stock, a stockalypse can be triggered by something as mundane as a massive earnings miss, or a sudden adverse development like a negative court ruling in a lawsuit. A stockalypse in the broad markets is caused by far bigger forces that affect risk appetite and investor sentiment. These could range from a collapsing “bubble” in an influential part of the economy and tighter monetary policy, to excessive valuations and spiraling macroeconomic or geopolitical risk.

The biggest stockalypse in recent memory is easily the global credit-crisis that lasted from October 2007 to March 2009, which erased $37 trillion or 60% of worldwide market value in an 18-month period. In particular, the devastation in global financial markets that commenced with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2008 and lasted for more than a month is a prime example of a fiery stockalpyse.

A transient stockalpyse may occasionally be sparked by human error, such as the “Flash Crash” of May 6, 2010 that saw the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunge almost 1,000 points but recover from that loss within minutes.

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