Issue: Finance

In Letter, Warren Buffett Concedes a Tough Year by David Segal, New York Times, February 28, 2009
The renowned investor Warren E. Buffett chided himself and the business world at large in his annual letter to shareholders of his holding company on Saturday as he sifted through the wreckage of his worst year in four decades.

Bay Area nonprofits brace for 2010 shakeout by Meredith May, The San Francisco Chronicle, March 1, 2009
Nonprofits are seeing an alarming drop in funding and increased demand for help this year, setting the stage for a complete shakeup of the sector in 2010.

Sold Out: How Wall Street and Washington Betrayed America Wall Street Watch
Executive Summary - PDF - takes a minute to open and the first page is blank - don't be alarmed!

Ecology of Finance Seed Magazine, by Benjamin Phelan, February 3, 2009
A growing cadre of biologists argues that ecosystem analysis of the world economy might stave off a repeat of 2008's financial catastrophe.

The New Depression, by Martin Jacques, NewStatesman, February 12, 2009
"We are living through a crisis which, from the collapse of Northern Rock and the first intimations of the credit crunch, nobody has been able to understand, let alone grasp its potential ramifications. Each attempt to deal with the crisis has rapidly been consumed by an irresistible and ever-worsening reality. So it was with Northern Rock. So it was with the attempt to recapitalise the banks. And so it will be with the latest gamut of measures. The British government – like every other government – is perpetually on the back foot, constantly running to catch up. There are two reasons. First, the underlying scale of the crisis is so great and so unfamiliar – and, furthermore, often concealed within the balance sheets of the banks and other financial institutions. Second, the crisis has undermined all the ideological assumptions that have underpinned government policy and political discourse over the past 30 years. As a result, the political and business elite are flying blind. This is the mother of all postwar crises, which has barely started and remains out of control. Its end – the timing and the complexion – is unknown".

The Global Downturn in Numbers:

  • 0.5%: IMF prediction for global growth in 2009 - worst since WWII
  • Up to 40 million: Number of people who will lose their jobs this year, according to the International Labour Organisation
  • $9.7trn Total pledged by the US alone towards solving the crisis
  • 3.6% Proportion of GDP pledged by the G7 and BRICs countries towards fixing the crisis (1.5% this year)
  • 2.3m Number of US properties that received a default notice or were repossessed in 2008. In the UK, 45,000 homes were repossessed - another 75,000 are expected to be taken in 2009
  • 14 Number of major global banks which collapsed, were sold or were nationalised during 2008
  • 200,000 Number of European companies expected to fail this year; an additional 62,000 are expected to fail in the United States. These figures represent record levels of insolvency
  • 52% Increase in UK company failures between late 2007 and late 2008
  • 14% Drop in level of Chinese exports during January
  • 1% Current UK interest rates (down from 5% in October 2008). In the US, rates have fallen to between 0 and 0.25%

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