I get that. However, any discussion has to incorporate the knowledge of all parties, not just one, so we're establishing a baseline here. So. You consider yourself a passenger on the back of the bus who doesn't even know who the driver is. We'll start with that.
This is where I say there is no bus and there is no driver. Here's a better analogy:
There is no real central control of markets. People can have opinions, governments can pass rules, but at the end of the day the most efficient market is a dark pool - that means a private group of colluding investors operating without oversight to the detriment of everyone else. Considering governments generally operate for the benefit of "everyone else" investing is fundamentally a tug-of-war between illegal collusion and legal exchange.
To complicate matters, the beautiful dream of businessmen yelling numbers at each other has been effectively dead since the birth of NASDAQ in '71. It isn't even people on terminals much anymore. Depending on who you ask, between 50 and 85% of all trading volume is algorithmic - HFT (high-frequency trading, cause of the Flash Crash ), ETF (Exchange Traded Funds, basically a basket of stocks whose composition is determined by algorithms) and other wooly critters. The guy at the eTrade interface dayplaying is a flyspeck on the ass of the gnat on the ass of the elephant that is the market. Then there are the people betting on the bets - the derivatives market, whereby people buy and sell options on whether or not, for example, a stock will go up by a dollar within the next eight weeks - which stands at roughly ten times the size of the actual market. Then there's the bond market, which you as an unaccredited investor can't really touch and as you don't own a desk at JP Morgan Chase, even if you did you'd be skinned alive.
So really, the system being discussed is a large assemblage of computers playing blackjack with each other at kilohertz speed. These computers are programmed by live human beings and everyone has an opinion about what to do and those opinions make shit tons of money and lose shit tons of money. Like, SHIT TONS:
The market is not a zero-sum game. People wouldn't put money into it if they didn't have a reasonable expectation of getting money back out. Ford was a profitable company based on its sales of automobiles before the crash of 2008, and it remained a profitable company based on its sales of automobiles after the crash of 2008. There are definite gyrations of cash flow and finance based on the behavior of the markets but in the end, everybody makes money, commerce continues and the world spins in its orbit unheeded.
A number of people are pissed off that stock prices are dropping. They're dumb. Stock prices have been historically expensive for the past couple years. The prices need to come down in order to meet the average performance they've had for a gajillion years.
Here's another question: how much do you care about this stuff? 'cuz I didn't used to, then I took on a forceful and deliberate course of education because I wanted to understand 2008. 8 years later and not only do I feel that I understand it, I find it entertaining. Lemme know if you wanna leg up 'cuz it's so much simpler (and so much more appalling) than "they" would have you believe.