Caution: Falling Markets

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NEW YORK: Why is the Dow falling? Ask investors -- who have sent the index down in four straight sessions to well below 8900 on Wednesday -- and they count the ways.

  • Hong Kong: Leader Tung Chee-wa has managed to push the Pacific Rim's economic jewel into recession, and admitted as much on Tuesday night. Result: The Hang Seng index finished the day down more than 5 percent.

  • Japan: Moody's Investor Service, whose job it is to tell you which banks your money is safe in, downgraded five key Japanese banks, and is looking at four more. Result: The Japanese yen continues to fall -- and the Japanese economy continues to atrophy.

  • South Korea: Not that disgruntled labor is anything new there, but the workers at Hyundai Motors are threatening to strike (which would cripple the Korean economy) unless they all get to keep their jobs (which would cripple the Korean economy).

  • And Indonesia? A touch of political stability hasn't helped the economy much -- the rupiah is now somewhere near the center of the earth.

    "Asia never went away, or at least it shouldn't have," says FORTUNE writer Nelson Schwartz. "Investors are suddenly remembering the problems all over again." Plus, says Schwartz, the markets have been ailing from within for a while now. Technical indicators like volume and the advancers/decliners ratio have been sagging for weeks, he says. "Now just seems to be the time to act on it."

    Then there's Russia, fast approaching meltdown. But the Russian stock market has lost half its value since January; anyone on these shores who still had money in it on Tuesday -- well, they probably deserve to go broke.

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