Losses at Europe's biggest bank, HSBC, relating to the US housing market crisis reached $4.3bn (£2.7bn) in the third quarter.
The unprecedented turbulence in financial markets continued to present "enormous challenges", the bank added.
The times they are a changing. The recent financial crisis is responsible for the forming of different attitudes regarding the difference between what is necessary and what is desirable in the mind of the consumer. We knew about the difference all the time but in times of boom we all tend to spend a little more on the fripperies and desirables as opposed to the necessities. We all know about the struggles of the local shop against the might of the four giant superstores but today the Co-operative society announced a 25% increase in turnover. You may know that the good old Co-op is basically a socialist organisation and it looks as though people are becoming increasingly choosy about where they spend their money. I am in the process of moving what little I have to them and I know of at least one other person who is going to do the same. Recently Shoreham Steve wrote a lengthy comment to a post on my blog which outlined his attempts to deal only with ethical business. Not so easy but always laudable to try. More and more people will respond favourably to the fair trade companies and will slowly reject the wasters and users i.e. the major banks and their dodgy chums.
Are the high streets dying? I don’t think so. Just evolving but people will begin to hang on to their old mobile phone a bit longer and they will probably hang on to their cash rather than spend it on the luxury items. If the shops that only sell unnecessary goods were removed from the scene entirely then what would be left? Not much. Our local high street at Clapham Junction is no exception and is made up of the usual shops. They all sell stuff no one needs. Most of us have what we need though of course I accept there are far too many exceptions.
Recently Brown said he hoped his measures would encourage the banks to start lending again. That is what caused the problems in the first place so it is imperative that they, the banks, are monitored closely. Brown also thinks that new tax cuts will encourage consumer spending. Great! Lets all go and buy more stuff we don’t need.
I am no financial expert as you will have already deduced from this post but I do believe we have to begin to look at a personal policy around spending that addresses three basic issues if at all possible.
1. Do we need the new purchase?
2. If we do was it made responsibly in terms of the effects on environment?
3. Did the people who made it get a fair price for a fair days work in a safe , healthy work environment?
Some of you will already know how difficult it is to buy in this way but we have to begin to demand the option, partly by refusing to buy what does not meet our standards. Boycott the decorative, the trivia and the fripperies and have a sensible Christmas. Give to the poor and the children and try not to give too much to the venture capitalist and the high Street muggers. If you can’t eat it, it doesn’t save you money or you can’t wear it, keep an old person warm with it, make some thing useful ( tools) OR make a child very happy for longer than three days then don’t buy it.
If people down sizing their Christmas spend causes businesses to go to the wall it is probably a case of natural wastage and or survival of the fittest which many of those failing businesses would have claimed when the boot was on an others foot. The decline in the high street that you think you might be seeing could be the beginning of some thing radically more realistic and viable. Let us hope so.
Finally I would like to hear what others think and what strategies they employ when spending. The best comment will receive a free goodie from the EB Band catalogue.
copyright e d g a r b r o u g h t o n 2008