Media reports from New York and London indicate a continuance
of corporate and financial sector drudgery. The depression continues to be
experienced on Wall Street as many formerly highly paid staff are forced to
On Wall Street: International investment banks and
associated financial institutions are reducing staff numbers in order to stay
'in line with the business environment'. Giant Meryll Lynch has already
reduced its staffing levels by approximately 15,000 employees in the last 18
months. JP Morgan another Wall Street mega institution is currently undergoing
an operational review -– and is looking to reduce its workforce by up to 1/5 of
its current staffing levels.
Some analysts are saying that 'uncertainty' over the
pending war with Iraq is the biggest factor 'spooking equity market investors'.
Some are saying that the best scenario would be to get on with the war, getting
it out of the way as quickly as possible - thus giving opportunity for a
recovery in the US economy. As long as uncertainty looms, confidence is shallow.
In London, news from 'The City' is as negative as New
York: approximately 20,000 people have been laid off in the same sector.
Is there a silver lining -– someone says? 'Give me some
good news'. I really don't know that I can. I'm considering not reading
the economy sections of the newspapers anymore or listening to CNN.
The indicators are that the fund management sector is
next on the chopping block.
Asia Pacific: The ripple effect from the US and UK is
being felt by 'outsiders' too as the 21 member APEC (Asia Pacific Economic
Cooperation) group seeks to address "Global economic uncertainty". A report
to APEC from Sir Dryden Spring APEC Business Advisory Council representative
will be presented on October 21/02 in Mexico. According to The Dominion Post, 12
October 2002, "The report says there is "considerable uncertainty" about
the global economy. This is heightened by the collapse of asset prices and major
corporate governance failures...
Other recommendations include:...urgent action to restore
investor confidence by improving corporate governance standards and practices,
while promoting the transparency of trade and investment policy..."
Japan: the world's second biggest economy -– biggest
importer of food -– and one of the biggest importers of oil, is so indebted
that any instability in the US markets is unsettling to say the least.
"New Zealand's ambassador in Tokyo, Philip Gibson, says.
"With all the bad debts the big Japanese banks have, they're having to sell
shares to shore up their balance sheets"...
"Banks are major share investors in Japan. But as they
continue to sell into the market the whole thing feeds off itself."
"The Japanese Government has indicated that it wants to
deal with the bad debt problem but the patient is now in such bad shape that
there are fears that any surgery will worsen the patient condition...
'...the Japanese boasted per capita private savings of
US$90,000 (NZ$185,500) and Japan had US$500 billion in foreign reserves -– the
biggest in the world. Yet the public sector debt was a huge 150 per cent of
gross domestic product." The Dominion Post, 16 October 2002