David Gura

Updated September 20, 2021 at 5:56 PM ET

Stock markets from Hong Kong to New York were hit by a major sell-off on Monday as a massive Chinese real estate conglomerate called China Evergrande Group faces a potentially devastating debt default.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slumped 614 points, its worst performance in about two months, after earlier falling more than 900 points. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also fell sharply, posting their worst daily percentage falls since mid-May.

Wick Simmons, the former CEO of Nasdaq, started working on Wall Street in Lower Manhattan after graduating from business school in 1966. Today, he barely recognizes the neighborhood.

"Wall Street, as I knew it, is gone," Simmons says.

For centuries, Wall Street was the home of the the biggest banks in the world. The attacks on the World Trade Center on 9/11 completely changed that as many executives questioned the wisdom of having an entire industry consolidated in one place.

You might want to get familiar with this term because you will be hearing it a lot: the bond taper, or more widely known as just the taper.

When markets were in free-fall as the pandemic started to spread last year, the Federal Reserve knew it had to act quick – and big – to avoid a repeat of the 2008 Global Financial Crisis.

Among a slew of measures taken by the Fed, one stood out: The central bank committed to buying a massive amount of bonds and mortgage-backed securities each month.

For many people, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are part of an exciting and lucrative new financial frontier. But for the country's top market watchdog, Gary Gensler, they seem "like the Wild West" – and he's promising a crackdown.

The market for cryptocurrencies has ballooned. It is currently estimated to be worth about $2 trillion, thanks to the exploding popularity of Bitcoin and other virtual money like Dogecoin.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

For years, Wall Street was a top destination for star students like Tashrima Hossain, a class president at Stanford University with ambitions to change the world.

Hossain had interned for nonprofits and was seriously considering going to graduate school. But she figured a detour to Wall Street would teach her useful skills and provide networking opportunities. And the six-figure paycheck wouldn't hurt.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Updated July 29, 2021 at 9:28 AM ET

The U.S. economy grew at a strong pace in the spring as the country emerged from the darkest days of the coronavirus pandemic. The question now is what happens next, especially as the delta variant continues to spread.

On Thursday morning, the Commerce Department reported gross domestic product grew 6.5% in the period between April and June from a year earlier as the rollout of vaccines spurred a surge in economic activity.

When Jeff Bezos returned to Earth after a trip to the edge of space, there were sighs of relief — and it's likely some of them were from board members of the $1.8 trillion company he started 27 years ago.

For Amazon's founder and executive chairman, the trip on Tuesday aboard a rocket from his venture Blue Origin may have been the realization of a childhood dream.