This week has been pretty momentous in terms of the economy. First we saw the collapse of the 150-year-old institute the Lehman Brothers, which sent share prices plunging into freefall and thousands of jobs axed. Now, today, there are reports that the Halifax parent company HBOS is now in emergency talks with Lloyds TSB to avoid being the next victim.
The problem that all this has stemmed from is greed - right from the bottom of the consumer chain, right to the top of the corporate ladder.
During the boom years when house prices were soaring, people were releasing equity in their houses left, right and centre to buy expensive holidays, extensions, cars and gadgets (which they did not really need). This was done without a single thought for the future and whether house prices would one day shrink again.
Similarly banks were letting home buyers borrow up to five/six/seven, even ten times their salary to get a foot on the housing ladder or to be able to move to a bigger house.
This again was done with no regard for the future or with a thought to the dreaded 'negative equity' scenario.
I blame the financial institutions for encouraging this type of borrowing, becasue they knew that they could only make money on all the interest charges.
However now these institutions themselves are failing, because people just cannot pay the money back and the housing market is still plunging ever downwards causing a deeper financial black hole.
But it is not only those who cannot afford to pay back what they owe that are in trouble. People who have been careful and tried to save are under threat as a result as well, with the future of their pensions, investment plans and savings in turmoil.
Where it will end I don't know, but I hope that lessons are learned from this and when the economy picks up again in 2010, 2011, 2012 or whenever the predictions are, this is never allowed to happen again.
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