World laid bear
The technical definition of a bear market is a drop in a leading market index of 20 per cent from its high.
On that measure, and after the falls of the past couple of days, there are already bear markets in France, Mexico and Italy.
After the first impact of the crisis in money markets in the autumn, Japan and China entered a bear market phase last November.
In fact, according to research by Bloomberg, some 43 stock markets have slipped from bull to bear.
And as for developed markets as a whole, as measured by the MSCI World Index, they are down 17 per cent on average from their 31 October high.
So I think we can safely say that the stomping, snorting optimistic beast of a market is fleeing the field, to be replaced by something scary and grizzly.
In the UK, at one point this morning shares were showing a fall of a fifth in their value on average since just the start of this year.
But volatility is the order of the day. In London there has been a stunning bounce, which could yet turn out to be ephemeral.
Having worked at assorted times on trading floors, I can smell the adrenalin, testosterone and fear that is creating this mayhem.
There are of course fundamental reasons to be worried.
I have written and broadcast extensively about the painful transition we are living through from liquidity crisis to solvency crisis, from credit crunch to asset deflation, from money market malfunction to global economic slowdown.
It started last summer as a crisis of confidence among banks and financial institutions, which led them to rein back the credit the provided to each other and then to all of us.
But what has been profoundly shocking is how the effect of that credit squeeze has been amplified by a self-reinforcing feedback mechanism which has seen the recession in the US housing market pulverise first the value of the alchemical securities manufactured out of sub-prime and then the balance sheets of banks and insurers.
And in the vicious cycle of decline, the flaws in the financial system ignored during the bull-market euphoria are now being exposed. As you know, I have been particularly worried for some time about the fragility of the so-called monoline insurers - and the threat that their woes will lead to massive losses for investors in the bonds they insure.
My fears became very personal yesterday when the disarray at Ambac, a leading monoline, led to falls in the price of bonds of my beloved Arsenal.
Few of us are immune from what's going on. Whether you are saving for a pension, a direct investor in shares and bonds, or a Chancellor of the Exchequer dependent on tax revenues generated by the City, you would be right to feel a bit poorer this morning.