Dennis Jones is a Jamaican-born international economist, who has lived most of the time in the UK and USA, and latterly in Guinea, west Africa. He moved back to the Caribbean in 2007. This blog contains his observations on life on this small eastern Caribbean island, as well as views on life and issues on a broader landscape, especially the Caribbean and Africa.







**You may contact me by e-mail at livinginbarbados[at]gmail[dot]com**

Friday, October 10, 2008

Closing Time.

It seemed like years between midday and the close of the trading day today. The last few weeks have seen what I call the bewitchng hour--the last 60 minutes of trading on the New York Stock Exchange--which has been such a flurry of action that you wondered if you really could do so much in a short period of time. Today was little different, though after six straight declines another one would not be a surprise. The last hour saw a flurry of buying that took the Dow up to a high that was 1,000 points higher than the lowest point (see report). The Dow had its biggest ever weekly loss, and the S&P 500 had its worst week since 1993; each had losses of over 1 percent for the day. After near double digit losses on other days this may suggest the final capitulation, or it may be near.

As some said, though, "At this point, investors are just focusing on getting through the day.'' I know the feeling. In a week of crazy movement and what was not verging on panic but was the full blown thing, prices moved wildly in seconds, even in the foreign exchange market. I made one trade in the late afternoon, which hit my target a 100 points away within seconds of it being placed, and then retraced to the start point. I thought my computer was going to catch fire. These abnormal, huge up and down movements make it really scary when there are Internet problems. I now need to do a quick check of weather before placing deals to make sure that a sudden thunderstorm does not leave me in limbo. In fact, I now set up deals very quickly. Maybe a few days loss of power would be good as I would just have to watch European football on TV or read a book.

The weekends have taken on a very eerie feeling over the past few months, with monster events seeming to happen just as the markets reopen in Asia. This weekend, we have the G7 Finance Ministers meeting in Washington, in my old workplace. Early signs are that there will not be a meeting of minds: Italy's economy minister, Giulio Tremonti, has already said he will not sign the communique, which he thinks is too weak. (Now, he had said earlier in the week that Italian banks were sound and "have not engaged in creative financing or other risky financial operations and thus are more sound that those in other western countries", applauding the conservative "and even backward" structure of the Italian banking system that had in the end protected it from the severe consequences of the credit crunch(see report).)

EU leaders are due to meet in Paris on Sunday to discuss the financial crisis, and Italy's prime minister--and often-time comedian--Silvio Berlusconi, when asked what European Union leaders might discuss, told a news conference: "There is talk of suspending markets for the time needed to rewrite (international finance) rules." After the press conference was over and reporters asked for more details, he replied: "No, no, no. It was a pure hypothesis like when you say: 'let's suspend Basel 2' or 'let's do another Bretton Woods'. It was a hypothesis that was never mooted by any leader, least of all me."

EU officials are already being painted as the last people to offer advice, as they seem unable to react in any coordinated way to the financial crisis. It's hard to know what should come out of the weekend's deliberations that would cement a calming of the world's markets, and perhaps one day will not do it any way.

A friend from here, affectionately known as "The Husband", told me that he has been invited to the meetings for the first time, and I hope he can give a good piece of his highly educated mind to all who will listen.I hope that Tina Fey is there and will next week have some different material, though with the presidential race giving so much free material for satire, it's hard to see a little financial meltdown getting the comedians' attention. Pity, I think there is some good material out there, especially over the bubbling spat between Iceland and the UK, which is putting new meaning to things smelly fishy.

Well, I am just going to make sure that there is enough room under the mattresses to put the little cash I have, as this seems to be the preferred solution of many people, now frightened completely out of their wits by anything that has the word bank in it.Or, maybe I should go and sink a few "Banks", as that would provide a draft I could negotiate easily.

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