The economic downturn: What’s the last year been like for you?

As part of the BBC’s Aftershock season, we’re going to be on BBC World TV on Friday the 11th of September from 15:30-16:00 GMT and of course on the radio during our normal time. On Friday, not only do we mark the anniversary of the fall of Lehman Brothers but also take a look at a year where the world changed forever.

Have you lost your job or house? If yes, tell us what happened and how things are with you now. If not, has last year been difficult for you? How has your life changed with the financial crisis? Claudia and I have been planning for the past few days. Read on to see the line up of guests for Friday.

Charles Okwalinga , A restaurant and home owner: When we spoke to Charles last year his business was doing badly and he was on the verge of losing his home. Now he says ,Things have improved for them and after the programme his council contacted him with details of the mortgage rescue schemes. He says he’s barely surviving but remains hopeful. However he blames the banks for contributing to problems and doesn’t think they are doing enough to help.

Chris Cheshire, an executive travel service owner: His business is badly affected by the credit crunch as it is now seen as high risk. The bank took his credit cards and overdraft away from him and he’s now having to sell his boat business. Chris blames the banks and says they function out of pure greed. He was also shocked that he was able to borrow £400,000 to start his boat business when now he can’t even get a credit card.

Ronnie Fox , an employment and partnership lawyer.He’s representing bankers who want to sue their bosses over failure to pay bonuses. He says bankers have been scapegoated because of incompetency of governments. He also says that bankers were promised bonuses and have set their lives on this money, you can’t take that away.

Alan Miles, an ex-equity analyst at Lehman Brothers made redundant last year: Alan sent us an excerpt from his journal during that time. A year ago Alan wrote this:
“Thursday September 11th, 2008 7am – “7 years ago today”
So today I’m about to walk into my office in Times Square at Lehman Brothers, where I’ll soon be surrounded by people who were at work in the World Trade Center’s North Tower and across the Street at the World Financial Center where Lehman had its world headquarters and had just opened its new trading facility less than 24 hours before the September 11th attacks…Today, on September 11th, 2008, the Firm is literally in a struggle for its own life. It will be a very strange day indeed.”

Dr Dany Lang, economics professor at the University of Paris 13: He says that the main problem is deregulation, not the bankers. Bankers do what they are allowed to do by the government. He also thinks that France pulling itself out of recession isn’t real as far as people’s spending is concerned and job availability.

Julia Longacre is a friend of the program; we spoke to her last October when she’d just lost her job. She says she’s never been unemployed in her life and describes how difficult it is to apply for jobs and wait and no one gets back. It’s been a very difficult year and she doesn’t know what will happen.

Alpesh Patel, Hedge fund manager: Alpesh was a guest on our program about a month ago when we spoke about banks being good and thinks there’s nothing immoral about banks making money. He also thinks that bankers deserve their bonuses.

So, this is where we are so far, we’re hoping to get a guest out of Mumbai and Vegas and will update the page when they’re confirmed. Our guests will be discussing a number of issues like, the responsibilities of bankers in the crisis, regulation and the role of government and where normal people with businesses and jobs like Charles, Chris and Julia stand in all of this. If you have any questions for our guests post them here also post your own stories of last year, what has it been like for you and your family?

20 Responses to “The economic downturn: What’s the last year been like for you?”

  1. 1 Dennis Junior
    September 10, 2009 at 11:52

    It has been not that good…Student Loans to attend Community College for me, has been slightly difficult….

    =Dennis Junior=

  2. 2 patti in cape coral
    September 10, 2009 at 13:02

    The last year has not been good. The taxes and insurance on my house went up dramatically, sending my daughter to college, paying lawyers to finish the paperwork to get my husband home, mother getting older and needing more of my help. Basically the last year has consisted of working, hanging on to my house by the skin of my teeth, and listening to a lot of meditation tapes to get to sleep at night. On the upside, I have never been without work, and I have toughened up a bit, not as afraid of things as I used to be. Also, there is a dubious benefit to the economic downturn that taxes and insurance on homes are going down again, for those of us who have been able to keep them. My health insurance fees have gone way up, though.

  3. 3 scmehta
    September 10, 2009 at 14:02

    Last year’s been like being looted and wounded by our own protectors i.e. our govt/financial institutions/shares-markets, with no one to look-up to for complaint or help; and, to top it all, its also been like being punished by our markets’ governing bodies (like ‘messengers from hell’ , holding their all-powerful specter and showering us with the curses of sky-rocketing prices of all the goods/commodities and foods), as if to rub salt on our wounds. If we say that it was a global economic downturn, then we should all the more be sure that the markets/money-players, all around the world, have been globally corrupt and unethical, with the “blessings” of their governments, in their dealings for a long long time.

  4. 4 Tom K in Mpls
    September 10, 2009 at 15:31

    I lost a bad job, I should be getting paid education or at least a loan to get a better one. Some prices drop and others go up. Nothing is all good or bad. The worst part will be when we all pay off our governments stimulus debt, specifically the bailouts.

    • 5 Dennis Junior
      September 12, 2009 at 00:21


      If you have lost your job; The Federal Government has given people the ability to go back to college under Federal Student Loans programmes….

      =Dennis Junior=

  5. September 11, 2009 at 09:07

    Things were difficult, i kept my job, although there was a wage cut. Things went on but not as well as they could have gone. I cant wait till next year when all this will end .

  6. 7 marilise saghbini - london/beirut
    September 11, 2009 at 11:43

    Since the credit crunch hit, news about the state of businesses in around the world has been far from uplifting. Many businesses have folded and unemployment has soared – but this is not the whole story!
    Despite the economic downturn, many entrepreneurs are starting up, including those who have suffered redundancy. This suggests that more people who have been made redundant, or are at risk of redundancy, could turn the recession into an entrepreneurial opportunity.
    My neighbour was an international lawyer who is trilingual, after being made redundant 5 months ago, he has started up his own consultancy with some redundant lawyer friends with great success.
    There are LOTS of great stories like this – which will all be in the spotlight during Global Entrepreneurship Week (16-22 November), an inspiring week we are all in need of! If you need cheering up check out: http://www.unleashingideas.org

    • September 11, 2009 at 12:55

      Recession really is an opportunity to pursue your passions and turn them into profit. The old adage ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ is so relevant — the result of recession is that innovation and entrepreneurial behaviour is being unleashed around the globe. What’s more, entrepreneurs are taking the opportunity to shape recovery, to change the world for the common good, to innovate businesses that contribute to community, that address global problems and find new sustainable solutions for these. Global Entrepreneurship Week is a brilliant opportunity to shine a spotlight on enterprise, drive recovery and shape the future.
      It’s easy to get involved, just go to: http://www.unleashingideas.org
      Be part of an exciting global movement that is shaping the world.

  7. 9 Camille, France
    September 11, 2009 at 13:01

    My partner has held senior positions in IT for the last 15 years. Though we are not posh, money was never an issue. A few months before the crisis, I gave up my job as a scientific researcher and decided to go back to school – as my partner was earning enough for the both of us. We moved from Asia to Europe and enjoyed buying our first house, our first car, a new kitchen. Then my partner’s project suddenly ended. While she was confidently searching for a new offer, I saw the crisis hitting the US while listening to the BBC and reading my magazines. I distinctly remember learning about the case of the Lehman brothers that caused a vague sense of panic in me – like a sky turning black just before a storm. My partner thought she was going to be all right, after all we were in Europe and not in the US. She’s been without a job for a year now. This summer, I took a cleaning job and I’ve been in touch with my former employer, asking if I could work for him again. We’re living off our savings and as cheaply as one possibly can. For me personally, the crisis has been a good lesson and an opportunity to remember my priorities in life. For example, my partner has been home instead of on the road for most of the time; I immensely enjoy being together. I’ve discovered I can enjoy my garden just as much as any exotic holiday destination. I used to buy expensive organic vegetables; now I’m growing them myself. When our coffee machine broke down, I searched the trash of our neighbors until I found a perfectly functioning machine. Hopefully my partner will find a new job soon; and when she does, we will enjoy it more responsibly than we ever have.

  8. 10 Kapil
    September 11, 2009 at 13:05

    I didn’t get assistantship in the US for my PhD.

  9. 11 Miles Lacey
    September 11, 2009 at 13:21

    I was fortunate that I was not laid off as the result of the recession because I had left my job a year before that due to other reasons, including medical. Now that I need to get a job and get some money to pay the bills etc I find that very few businesses or government departments are hiring but the few that are seem to want people who are absolutely perfect in every way while the rest of us are just left to rot while the Prime Minister does nothing but tell us that New Zealand is in a better position to weather the storm because the property and stock market has picked up. Unemployment really sucks but at least I don’t have a mortgage to pay or a wife and kids to support.

  10. 12 T
    September 11, 2009 at 15:25

    I lost my job and have health problems to deal with. Also, I’m trying to build up a home business for income. But despite record profits, the banks still aren’t giving out credit. And no one’s being held accountable.

  11. 13 John in Salem
    September 11, 2009 at 15:34

    This weekend my wife and I will be moving the last of our things out of our foreclosed home and waiting for word from the court regarding our Chapter 7 bankruptcy hearing last Monday.
    It’s safe to say this hasn’t been one of the best years of my life.

    Our bank, which refused to talk with us about renegotiating our mortgage for the last 2 years, received $25 billion in bail-out funds last fall. Within 3 weeks they sent us a notice raising our payment to more than I bring home every month, and since my wife has been unable to find work, that’s a problem. We stopped paying the first of December.
    Finally, one month before the house was to go up for auction in August they sent a letter saying we should come in to discuss a renegotiation. This was followed by another notice raising the mortgage to well over my gross monthly wages.
    Filing for bankruptcy put the foreclosure process on hold and is giving us time to get all our stuff out. We’re back in Portland now, in a condo and grateful that I still have my job and the health insurance that comes with it. Things could always be worse – we could be living under a bridge somewhere, I suppose.
    But I’m 58, my wife a few years older, so we probably won’t be buying another home anytime soon.

  12. 14 Anthony
    September 11, 2009 at 16:06

    Hasn’t been to bad. I use the Economy as an excuse not to do things/pay for certain things, lol. So in some aspects, it’s been easier.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  13. September 11, 2009 at 19:34

    I got my third job offer that am doing at the moment during this period of economic down turn. The company am working with spent huge resources training my colleagues and I for the job that was so depended of customers’ service. After our training, we have been under terrible pressure to make money.

    Our business has been painfully slow and even if customers are moved by our products and services, their ability to purchase has been grossly hampered by the economic meltdown.

    Just waiting for this to be all over soon.

    Adi Whyte,

    Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria.

  14. 17 Tom D Ford
    September 12, 2009 at 00:14

    My insurance has gone up about 50 %, no doubt to cover the companies losses in the derivative schemes.

  15. 18 Jim Newman
    September 12, 2009 at 13:09

    Hello again
    I’m an old man and a pensioner and I can’t say that the past year has been the most challenging of my life – far from it. What we are experiencing is not just an economic downturn but an increment in the attrition caused by the human overpopulation of our planet. I am not being pessimistic because I know that nature will carry on with or without human beings.

  16. 19 Macq
    September 13, 2009 at 22:23

    The global economic crunch is very scary. It is affecting all organizations around me and you get the feeling that its only a mater of time before it hits home.
    One multinational which is a direct competitor with my company just finished its latest round of laying offs and about 100 local employees were given the option of two months pay in lieu or a month’s notice and it is really scary because I have a very young family. Anyway we remain hopeful and pray for a better tomorrow!!!!


  17. 20 Ramah Nyang
    September 14, 2009 at 17:24

    It’s been a pretty interesting mix of events. On one hand a drop in remittances from Kenyans in the diaspora has caused a drop in property prices in the retail market; — though the number of those who can buy the houses on offer [at say Ksh. 8m or so] is rather low.

    The bulk of the problems Kenya’s facing now though are not directly linked to the global economic crisis per se. They’re of our own making quite frankly.

    We’ve known for 4 years that failed rains are now an emerging standard in the Kenyan climate; — and yet for some reason each government from 2005 to date has had some pretty optimistic economic growth projections. We grew complacent in the boom years; — and when the boom ended; — the crash was swift and brutal. Over 10 million Kenyans are now facing the prospect of dying by starvation. We’ve extended a begging bowl for about Ksh. 40 billion for aid for these individuals, and yet long-term plans to make Kenya food secure are based on flimsy data.

    Agriculture’s super critical to Kenya’s economy; — if food production, especially in maize, drops; — the ripple effects are devastating; — inflation spikes, credit flows are chocked off, prices soar across the board, and millions of poor Kenyans get the short end of the stick…..

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