For centuries, autumn has been the season for financial disaster. Modern practices of managing our credit system were supposed to have changed all that. But the panic of 2008 and the market crash of 1987 are possible signs that autumn may still be the weakest link in the financial chain.
Economist Judy L. Klein says, "There were financial crises or market crashes in the United States or Britain in the autumns of 1839, 1847, 1857, 1873, 1878, 1890, 1899, 1907, 1929, 1930 and 1932?In the early 20th century, autumn was the time for high rates of interest and margin calls."
Fall was the season for money to flow from New York banks to the grain movers in the Midwest or foreign exchanges abroad. During the rest of the year money would gradually flow back into the city. Klein says, "But the autumn scene was a settlement of cash. Without additional leveraged liquidity to maintain surface tension, speculative bubbles burst in late September or October."
Economists once hoped that conditions have changed to eliminate seasonal financial problems. The Federal Reserve was formed in 1913, in part, to "provide a currency that was elastic enough to withstand the financial drain." World War I ended the first wave of globalization of markets and stopped the autumnal drain of capital from New York to the rest of the world. Laws passed after the market crash of 1929 broke links between the banking system and the stock market. And the practice of autumn "settlement days," when landlords collected rents and other debts were paid?in place since the Middle Ages?declined around the world. But Klein says, "We may be less seasonally adjusted now than we assume."
Speaking of falling leaves, the global economy is actually losing more money from the disappearance of forests worldwide than it is from the current banking crisis.
In BBC News, Richard Black quotes conservationist Pavan Sukhdev as saying, "It's not only greater but it's also continuous, it's been happening every year, year after year. So whereas Wall Street by various calculations has to date lost, within the financial sector, $1-$1.5 trillion, the reality is that at today's rate we are losing natural capital at least between $2-$5 trillion every year."
By cutting down forests, we will have to begin paying for services that nature provides for free. Since trees are a natural absorber of the most important greenhouse gas?carbon dioxide?we will have to provide technological remedies for this. Trees also act as natural reservoirs for water.
Swedish businessman Johan Eliasch has a solution: PAY poor countries not to cut down their trees. However, this brings up worries about corruption, which is rampant in Third World countries.
In BBC News, Roger Harrabin quotes Eliasch as saying, ''Saving forests is critical for tackling climate change. Without action on deforestation, avoiding the worst impacts of climate change will be next to impossible, and could lead to additional climate change damages of one trillion a year by 2100.
''Including the forest sector in a new global deal could reduce the costs of tackling climate change by up to 50% and therefore achieve deeper cuts in emissions, as well as reducing poverty in some of the world's poorest areas and protecting biodiversity."
Art credit: freeimages.co.uk
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