THE most worrying thing about the global financial markets crisis is the threat it poses to the broader economy, to the real wellbeing of people.
The massive losses, the collapse of institutions and the fall in share prices are not only destroying value, they are undermining the confidence of individuals and families to spend and of companies to invest.
The economy is delicately poised and sentiment is achingly fragile — more companies will be looking at shedding jobs, or not going through with planned hiring and expansion. This is a menace to people across the so-called developed world. When people lose their jobs, they and their families suffer.
On these pages yesterday, Tim Costello, chief executive of World Vision Australia, prosecuted the case that it would be enlightened self-interest for the developed world to help evolve the less-developed nations into big, new markets for goods and services. Healthy backstreets lead to prosperous high streets.
Clearly, achieving this would require several things, primarily democracy and law-based free and fair societies. History tells us this is difficult but not impossible. It would also need the richer nations to boost aid in the interim.
The annual global aid budget is about $US100 billion ($A125 billion). That is in a world of 6 billion people, of whom 3.14 billion live on less than $2.50 a day (including 1 billion on less than $1 a day), while an estimated 26,000-30,000 children die daily, most from readily preventable causes.
In a single night this week — Thursday — six central banks spent about twice that amount, in effect public funds, to prop up financial markets. And the amount of public money that has been spent bailing out investors recently dwarfs that figure — and keeps growing. This is not to say it is not important and urgent that lawmakers and regulators try to stabilise a situation that, again, is menacing ordinary people.
But it is a bid to put it into a slightly different perspective.