Will This Game of Russian Roulette Prove Too Costly?; Mirror Business Editor CLINTON MANNING Gives His Analysis of the Russian Economic Crisis and Explains How It Will Have a Massive Impact on Ordinary People in Britain
Manning, Clinton, The Mirror (London, England)
RUSSIA'S collapsing economy and the stock market mayhem it caused has triggered talk of a worldwide recession.
At this stage the chances of turmoil thousands of miles away affecting life for the average Briton may seem small. But it could happen.
Chaos in financial markets has already knocked on from one country to another.
After Friday, which saw share prices yo-yo wildly, London traders face another stressful session today.
This is not just about falling share prices. They are of limited importance on their own.
Few of us have fortunes tied up in individual stocks. Those who do only lose if they sell.
It is true large portions of money paid into pension funds and endowment policies are often used to buy shares.
But these are long-term investments, designed to ride out the peaks and troughs of market movements and prices here are still higher than at the start of the year and 18 per cent up since the election.
However, big recent falls in share prices are important as they show a collapse in confidence. This spreading uncertainty has the potential to wreak havoc.
Nervous consumers will not take on the burden of bigger mortgages. If house sales slow, prices will stagnate or fall.
Spending on furniture, carpets, curtains and other items people change when they move home will also drop.
Those worried about losing jobs will not splash out on a new car or expensive holidays. They will tend to keep any spare cash. This hits company profits, and the caution will then spread to employers.
First to be axed will be expansion plans which could have created jobs and more work for suppliers.
This is already happening, in many cases by firms hampered by the high interest rate.
It has pushed up the value of the pound, making British goods expensive abroad.
If the turmoil in Russia and the Far East persists, there is the threat of a flood of cut-price imports from desperate overseas firms.
Several forecasters now believe the world economy will grow by less than two per cent this year, resulting in more firms chasing fewer customers around the global marketplace. …