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2008年9月22日 (月)


(Mainichi Japan) September 20, 2008
Financial crisis (Pt. 3): No end to the worst crisis since WWII
金融崩壊:リーマン・ショック/下 戦後最悪の危機続く

"It's like a blood clot in a hopelessly tangled blood vessel." Following the Lehman Brothers collapse, the short-term interest rate for dollars traded between banks shot up more than 10 percent for some financial institutions. One U.K. bank stated that some banks may collapse due to a lack of liquidity, with no end in sight for the worst financial crisis since WWII, and the Sept. 18 announcement by major central banks in Japan, America, and Europe indicated that they would cooperate in supplying significant dollar funding to short-term money markets in an attempt to alleviate anxiety.

But confusion caused by the Lehman Brothers collapse continues. According to a major securities company, the decision on Sept. 16 to provide public support to AIG, a major American insurance corporation, raised hopes that the worst had passed. However, stock markets in New York were universally down on Sept. 17. Markets in Tokyo and Asia fell on Sept. 18, increasing the general anxiety.

The markets are voicing increasing dissatisfaction with financial authorities. According to a Japanese bank analyst, "there is absolutely no sense that they have a desire or strategy to actively strengthen their involvement in reducing credit instability." There is also a strong distrust of American financial authorities, that in a span of just two days flip-flopped on their policy for public support.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson hasn't made a public appearance since the Sept. 16 decision to prop up AIG. Facing criticism, White House press secretary Dana Perino uncomfortably commented on Sept. 17 that the "Treasury Secretary is working hard," but didn't touch on what the market really wants to know; specifically, the standards for providing public support.

The fearful and suspicious market also turned on major U.S. securities firms -- firms that were supposed to be stable. On Sept. 17, shares of Morgan Stanley, the second largest securities firm in the U.S., temporarily dropped 44 percent in the New York market, forcing them to pursue mergers with multiple financial institutions.

Investors are pulling their money out of the stock market and putting it into gold and U.S. bonds, regarded as the safer bet. During trading on Sept. 17 the price of gold jumped 70 dollars, its greatest increase ever, and the interest on three-month U.S. bonds dropped to 0.03 percent, the lowest level since WWII.

The financial market upheaval has also affected the economies of developing nations, which have been supporting global growth.

On Sept. 15, the People's Bank of China discarded its inflation control policy, lowering interest rates for the first time in six years and seven months, a shocking reduction in the interest rate that followed less than half a day after the announcement of the Lehman Brothers collapse.

"Vice Premier Wang Qishan, head of Chinese financial affairs, was in Los Angeles for Cabinet-level talks between the U.S. and China on Sept. 15. After seeing the impact of the Lehman Brothers collapse first-hand, he probably bypassed People's Bank of China President Zhou Xiaochan to directly convince Premier Wen Jiabao," speculates one financial insider.

Regardless, stock markets continued to drop after this rate reduction, with dark clouds starting to color Chinese economic trends that had been universally optimistic following the end of the Beijing Olympics.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) tentatively estimates that losses from subprime loans "will reach 1.1 trillion dollars (115 trillion yen) worldwide," and IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn warned that the financial crisis may worsen.
"The consequences for some financial institutions are still in front of us. We expect that in the coming weeks or months there will be more financial institutions that will have problems."

毎日新聞 2008年9月19日 東京朝刊


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