Hello, I'm Mark Pearson. Market uncertainty due to social upheaval in parts of northern Africa and the Middle East was exacerbated Friday after a massive earthquake and tsunami rocked Japan.
The island nation is at particular risk for significant casualties from such a massive earthquake due to its large population of more than 127 million, and its location in the "Ring of Fire" — an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones stretching around the Pacific where about 90 percent of the world's quakes occur.
So far, no official death toll has been estimated but one thing is certain -- the massive earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan.
The biggest tsunami in modern Japanese history slammed the island nation late this week, killing hundreds and dealing the country hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. An 8.9 magnitude earthquake, less than one hundred miles offshore, unleashed a 23-foot surge onto the Japanese mainland wiping away boats, cars, buildings, and humans in its path. The devastating quake is believed to rank in the top 5 all-time earthquakes worldwide.
Japan's largest city of Tokyo was tossed into gridlock as highway and subway traffic halted. Widespread power outages tossed the island's economy into chaos with many reverberations still unknown.
Japan is the world's third largest economy behind the first place economy of the United States and was only recently surpassed by second place China. Japan remains a key importer of U.S. meat products – mainly beef and pork. And 2010 marked a 3.9 percent jump in the Japanese economy, the largest in nearly two decades. But the tsunami's impact on Japan's economy and global markets remains to be seen.