U.S. Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke hints at policy change. He is looking for an exit from quantitative easing whereby he has been buying financial assets to the order of $85 billion per month since the end of last year. He has emphasized the exit shall be a "tapering" procedure — no abrupt moves, no jumping on the brakes. Everything will be nice and gradual. Believe me. You really won't see me go. I shall just fade away.

And yet for all the care that has been taken to massage the markets' fears, emerging economies are in turmoil. Capital is leaving their shores. Their stock markets have plummeted. Their bonds are losing value and their exchange rates are falling. There is much tension building in global financial markets, and it seems poised to snap once the summer holidays come to an end and people start getting back to work.

Is this just one more case of America sneezing and everyone catching a cold? Are we still living in a world where "the almighty dollar, that great object of universal devotion" (Washington Irving) swings us about with its every move? So it seems, at first glance. And yet a more careful inspection suggests otherwise.