What is making the market volatile is pretty obvious. What is likely to keep it volatile is a little less so.
Wall Street pros have trotted out all the usual suspects to explain why the major averages have wiped out almost all their gains for the year: Europe, Ebola, ISIS and a pick-your-poison menu of other headwinds that have made a world full of promise suddenly appear to be a minefield without a map.
Underlying the investing climate is a general level of uncertainty.
A growing chorus of investors worry not simply that the world is changing but is doing so in ways for which policymakers are not prepared. How does the Federal Reserve unwind its massive easing measures? What happens if things don't go as planned? In the case of a big scare, particularly in the fixed income market, will a lack of buyers turn a selloff into a stampede?
"We're seeing this move for the third time," Peter Boockvar, chief strategist at The Lindsey Group, said in reference to the Fed likely exiting the third leg of its quantitative easing bond-buying program this month. "People are acting like they've never seen this before. This is what happens when QE ends. All the warts and blemishes start to matter."
Indeed, there are warts and blemishes aplenty, even amid the wine and roses.