Stencilled on an ATM in San Francisco. Image by "Quandaries" on Flickr.
We asked our Observers, from Cotonou to Melbourne, if they were starting to feel worried by the financial crisis that's wreaking havoc on the world's stock markets. You, too: send us your comments.
"I heard about the crisis two days ago"
Yasmin Zata Ligouw is a language teacher and former journalist from Jakarta. She considers herself part of the Indonesian middle-class.
I heard about the crisis two days ago through the press. Last week, the Jakarta stock exchange was closed because of the end of Ramadan celebrations, so this crisis is kind of 'newer' here. Of course it's a bit scary, especially because I have a family to look after and my husband and I have mortgage with the bank. But I'm confident in the Indonesian economy. Our president keeps saying that we won't live the nightmare of the Asian financial crisis of 1998 again, and most people believe that it's actually true."
"They're all rushing to buy dollars"
Cristina Civale is a writer and journalist in Buenos Aires.
The crisis is on the cover of all the papers - even Critica de la Argentina, [a newspaper known for its harsh critiques of economic management in the country] used the headline "Black Monday" today [Tuesday]. The government, a bit late, has started to take some measures now. They're thinking about 'dolarising' all bank deposits, as people are worried about the value of the Argentinean peso. It's quite incredible; they're all rushing to buy dollars to protect their savings.
However, our economic problems are so deep here that our crisis is permanent anyway. What can a few more problems do to us? We suffer from crazy inflation rates and the constant devaluation of our wages. Argentina is and always has been a model for this type of crisis; we've been living it since I can remember.
Despite this, people are still worried about how it might affect our already-fragile country. As we don't seem to get any reassurance or explanation, we do what we've learnt to do - take our money out of the bank, buy dollars, and wait for things to get better."
"People will still have 10 dollars to spend on a waffle"
Marc Laucher owns a waffle and sandwich store, Waffle On, in Melbourne, Australia.My business hasn't been affected by the crisis yet. The stock market might have felt the difference, but Australia is so involved with China, that as long as the Chinese continue consuming, we're protected.
The big restaurants will surely be the first to be affected, but people will still have 10 [Australian] dollars [5 euros] to spend on a waffle. It's a little treat that doesn't break the bank!
What's happened in the US makes me laugh - it's the biggest free market in the world, but this proves that a bit of state intervention now and again wouldn't go amiss.
In 1986 I was living in the USA, in Dallas, and the French restaurant that I worked in went bankrupt. So I really feel for the people that find themselves in that situation now."
"Clients (…) don't buy the high-end products anymore"
Awab Alvi is a private dentist from Karachi, PakistanThis is certainly having an affect on my business - I've noticed the difference and tightened my belt accordingly. You see that when clients come they don't buy the high-end products anymore, which is what makes the big difference in profit. While people used to get their teeth whitened, it's not a necessity, so they cut it out. There are a lot less people having braces too. These are essentially cosmetic products, and for that side of the industry, things are going to get much worse soon."
"This is not our crisis!"
Bertrand Kpogo is a Beninese blogger and a Web-site administrator.At the last UN General Assembly, Beninese President Yayi Boni made it known to President Bush that he didn't think it normal to release so many billions of dollars in aid for this crisis. Many Beninese think that this money could be used to help us get out of the food crisis instead.
The financial crisis is not our crisis! The subprime crisis neither; it didn't have anything to do with us. We're just getting out of the food crisis. It's been very hard and it's still haunting us. Here in West Africa, we don't have a stocks-and-shares culture. Few Beninese or Togolese buy shares or get involved in financial affairs, which explains why the stock markets in Ghana and Abidjan for example - where there are lots of foreigners - were thrown into panic. That hasn't been the case here in Cotonou, however. We haven't noticed a rise in prices either.
In Africa, we're actually much more sensitive to the petrol crisis, because a lot of our goods are imported, and each time the price of a barrel increases, the sectors that import become paralysed."
"We're not even allowed to negotiate these deals"
Daudi Were, from Nairobi, runs a company that helps Kenyan and East African NGOs set up and use online networks.We're really bracing ourselves now. Although it hasn't affected us yet, we know the next couple of months are going to be really hard. People have certainly become a lot more sceptical about lending money. It's hard enough to get a loan in Kenya at the best of times! People will start getting angry soon, when they realise it's affecting them directly.
If anything this highlights the need for more global cooperation. As Africans, we feel like decisions are being made that will affect us directly, and yet there's nothing we can do about it. We're not even allowed to negotiate these deals. We feel hopeless."