View Full Version : World Economic Gloom Deepens

12-19-2008, 04:28 PM
World economic gloom deepens


(Gold9472: I love how they use negative words like "plunges" with regards to the price of oil. Let it plunge. Let it fall to $1 a barrel. Lord knows I prefer cheap gas. How about you?)


Evidence of global downturn deepened on Friday as oil prices plunged again, Japan slashed interest rates to near zero to stave off recession and a top banking association warned the world economy will contract in 2009.

The price of New York oil dropped to below 34 dollars a barrel -- the lowest level since 2004 -- as weak global demand overshadowed a record cut in output that was announced this week by the OPEC cartel of major oil producers.

"The global recession continues to sap demand... Even after OPEC cut production by more then two million barrels, oil prices have fallen below the 40 dollar per barrel level," said BetOnMarkets analyst David Evans.

Speaking on the sidelines of an oil conference in London, OPEC head Chakib Khelil said the cartel, which includes the world's biggest producer Saudi Arabia, would continue cutting output until the price stabilised.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who has complained about major producers pushing up the price of oil, told the conference that price volatility was "in no-one's interest" and called for greater stability.

Prices have plunged since record highs of 147 dollars per barrel in July.

The downbeat mood was reflected on European stock markets, with the FTSE 100 in London plummeting 2.54 percent in afternoon trading, the Frankfurt DAX plunging 1.79 percent and the Paris CAC 40 index down 1.76 percent.

Hong Kong plunged 2.39 percent and Japan's Nikkei index fell 0.91 percent.

Official data in France showed the eurozone's second-biggest economy after Germany is faced with higher unemployment and a recession in 2009 for the first time since 1993, while a business confidence index hit its lowest level ever.

The INSEE statistics agency in Paris forecast that the French economy would contract by 0.8 percent in this quarter and again by 0.4 percent in the first quarter of 2009, while unemployment would shoot up from 7.3 percent to eight percent.

"The business climate has considerably deteriorated in France in the last year and a half, coming close to the levels seen in the 1993 recession," the agency said in a report, which also pointed to uncertainty over France's banks.

In Germany, the news magazine Der Spiegel quoted official sources as saying that the government is set to adopt a second economic support package worth 40 billion euros (57 billion dollars) to be spent on public infrastructure improvements.

The government has already adopted a 12-billion-euro economic rescue plan.

Also in Europe, two major banks Switzerland's UBS and France's Natixis, announced they were purging more than 30 billion euros in toxic assets as the US subprime home-loans crisis continues to wreak havoc around the world.

In one of the countries worst-affected by the crisis, Russia, the deputy head of the central bank said the net outflow of capital in 2008 could reach 100 billion dollars, reflecting investor fears on emerging markets.

And a top banking association predicted worse to come for the world economy.

The Institute of International Finance (IIF), which which represents more than 375 of the world's major banks and financial institutions, said the global economy would shrink by 0.4 percent in 2009 after two-percent growth this year.

Charles Dallara, managing director of the IIF, called the current situation "the most severe, globally synchronised recession in modern economic history" as he presented the report at a news conference in Washington on Thursday.

Mature economies -- including the United States, the 15-nation eurozone and Japan -- that are now in recession were forecast to contract a hefty 1.4 percent amid the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

In Japan, the central bank on Friday sliced lending rates to 0.1 percent from 0.3 percent following a similar move on Tuesday by the US Federal Reserve, which cut interest rates to record lows zero and 0.25 percent from 1.0 percent.

In a statement the Bank of Japan painted a grim picture of the economy and echoed sentiments that led to the government's prediction of zero growth in real terms for seven years.

"Financial conditions have deteriorated sharply on the whole," it said.

"Under these circumstances, economic conditions have been deteriorating and are likely to increase in severity in the immediate future," it said.