A difficult year just got a whole lot tougher. As Risk was going to press, news that the US Congress had voted against a $700 billion rescue fund proposed by the US Treasury sent markets tumbling.

The S&P 500 index plunged from 1,171 to 1,126 between 1:30pm and 1:45pm New York time on September 29 as traders reacted to the news. The index finished the day at 1,106.42 points - its biggest one-day decline since Black Monday in October 1987.

The Chicago Board Options Exchange's Vix index, which mea

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