Monday, October 27, 2008

Financial Malaise

The on-going financial crisis has been a pretty reliable topic in the speaking section of each lesson I run - new ructions, plans, hikes, crashes and spasms splashing the news day after day. Interest though noticeably evaporated last week. It appears the whole situation has just gone on too long. The novelty has not only worn off but is starting to bring many down.

Having a varied group of nationalities, I follow the relative damage to the countries concerned: Hungary has been tarred by association. CNN decided to put it in the same sentence as Iceland (reckless, perhaps) and said that the IMF had offered it a loan (which it declined). The market and the currency nevertheless plummeted in response from which it hasn't recovered. The Czechs and Slovaks are the happiest: their banks are safe; their economies are still unaffected; their only sadness is that with the Euro (and their currencies which move with the Euro) are appreciating, eroding their New Zealand savings. The Croatians are also fairly unaffected except for those speculating on the sharemarket as it keeps its downward trajectory ('I just keep buying the stock so I can lower my average.'/'It just keeps falling!' from two different students).

I've heard from a couple of self-employed people who are struggling a little. I haven't had any noticeable effect (it'd be a surprise if I was affected as quickly as them though). I have recently been given a project which will be a monthly money earner. I hope this will insulate any post-Christmas easing. And the boom of this year has left me with reasonable savings. Interest rates falling along with house prices appeals to the acquisitive part of me. I'm not yet into house buying mode or even in a situation where it is an ideal plan but the fact that the trend has begun that will eventually suit me is good. Lower petrol prices suit summer roadtripping too. Maybe post-crisis living won't be too bad for me after all.

Thinking of more than just myself, the scale of the crisis is starting to unnerve me. Commodity prices are crucial to New Zealand and they are simply plummeting with global demand. It'll be quite some time before they can get back to that high. And still the extent of the carnage globally is still not known. Along with 9/11 and the Boxing Day Tsunami, this is another global phenomenon that we get to experience in our adult lives. It is special.

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