Panic! on Wall Street -- and Apple's not immune

If you hold any kind of stock or mutual fund, you felt the effects of today's big dip on Wall Street. One of the rare exceptions was Campbell's Soup, which may say something about the growing demand for cheap canned goods in our new economically difficult future.

But if you ignored the financial pages except when it applied to Apple's stock -- which also took a bath today -- you'd hear all sorts of explanations that have nothing to do with votes in Congress. Much of the impetus came from analysts assessment that Apple's sales of high-end, high margin computers is slipping. (There was even a secret survey of retailers involved.) The drop was tied to fears about American spending in general, and was part of a larger trend among tech stocks, as apparently we'll be prioritizing tomato soup over an new iMac every 18 months.

All that makes sense, but can the drop in one stock really be separated from the general politically-driven freak-out on Wall Street? One clue that Apple's drop was real and not herd behavior was that the stock plunged a stunning 18 percent -- twice as much as the dip in even the tech-heavy Nasdaq index. But at least one analyst caused Apple's dip "purely fear." So if you're really feeling adventurous, maybe now's a good time to buy a share or two of AAPL? Or maybe it's smarter to just stick to canned goods.

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