Money Minute: Growth Fears Fuel Stock Sell-Off; Debt Ceiling Battle Looms

Investors are feeling battered and confused. Selling in stocks in Tokyo and Hong Kong accelerated overnight following Monday's massive sell-off on Wall Street. And investors in the U.S. are uncertain about whether we're in the midst of a temporary retreat, or a more fundamental end to the long running bull market.

The Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) tumbled 326 points Monday, the seventh triple-digit loss already this year. The Dow is now down 7.25 percent from the record high set on Dec. 31. The Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) slid 107 points and the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) skidded 40.

Maybe we shouldn't change Federal Reserve chiefs anymore. Monday was Janet Yellen's first day on the job. When Ben Bernanke took over in 2006, the financial crisis was about to explode. And his predecessor, Alan Greenspan, was greeted by an international currency crisis.

The looming battle over the debt ceiling could directly take aim at our wallets, %VIRTUAL-article-sponsoredlinks%because of the timing this time around. The Obama administration warns that congressional failure to act this month could force the government to delay sending out tax refunds. It could also mean delays in Social Security benefits and military pay.

An unusual public-private partnership is aiming to achieve a breakthrough in the battle against diseases such as Alzheimer's, Type 2 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. The Wall Street Journal says rival drug companies Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMY) and 10 others are teaming up with a government health agency to pool their research efforts. It's the drug industry's version of open source sharing of data.

It's apparently time to get away. The snow and frigid temperatures have led to an increase in cruise bookings. Carnival (CCL) says 565,000 passengers booked trips in January, up 17 percent from a year ago. The company operates 101 ships under the Carnival, Princess, Cunard and Holland names. The interest in cruising the Caribbean comes despite recent reports of virus outbreaks on ships operated by Carnival and its main rival, Royal Caribbean Cruises (RCL).

-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.