Photograph of traders at the New York Stock Exchange by Richard Drew/AP

The Dow Jones fell 5.56%, losing 444.99 points to close at 7,552 points; the Nasdaq fell 5% and the S&P 500 plummeted 6.71%. The NY Times reports, "Wall Street doubled down on its losses on Thursday, just a day after financial markets closed at their lowest point in nearly six years." And the Wall Street Journal says, "Stocks' sharp slide continued Thursday, pushing both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 to lows not seen since before the dot-com bubble."

Jim Paulsen, strategist at Wells Capital Management in Minneapolis, told CNBC, "We've created — I can't believe it — the TARP crisis #2. I thought we'd have learned our lesson after TARP crisis #1," referring to the Treasury Department's Troubled Assets Relief Program (known to many more as the $700 billion bailout). "Two weeks ago, the leadership took on a fear-mongering campaign to sell the TARP ... The next leg started almost the minute the Treasury Secretary said, 'We're not going to do this TARP thing.'" Paulsen then said, "We got close enough [to the stock index lows] here ... and it was just like, how could you not just try this sucker on?" And one asset management chief investment officer said to Bloomberg News, "It's an ugly mess out there. The economy is confirming it is very, very weak."

Oil fell to its lowest prices since May 2005--$50 a barrel--while Congress decided not to vote on an auto industry bailout--House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the Big Three automakers need to develop a plan detailing what they need, "Until they show us the plan, we cannot show them the money. Hopefully in another week or two we can see a plan."