Page last updated at 22:50 GMT, Tuesday, 12 August 2008 23:50 UK

The global squeeze: Your stories

Pakistan bread protest
It is now one year since people around the world started to feel the impact of the global credit crunch.

Some consumers have noticed an increase in petrol, food and fuel prices. Others are facing negative equity or home repossession. However, some people are avoiding the economic slowdown.

Here BBC Website readers from around the world tell us whether they are feeling the pinch or avoiding the squeeze.

Hans Alma, Netherlands
Owns yacht business
Personal income fallen by 30%

The downturn has had a rather large effect on our lives as we run a small leisure orientated business. We sell yachts - from partly-built to completed projects - and yacht designs. We saw our turnover tumble severely by 20% as potential customers have been forced to either cancel plans to invest or are keeping their cash in their pockets and waiting to see what develops. Inquiries for our products have dropped by at least 70%. Our personal income has dropped by 30% as rising costs have left us with less profit and as a result we are watching what we spend our money on.

We are closing our office 20 miles away to open one a mile away from our home so we can cut our fuel bill. We are not renewing our lease on the premises. We are looking for cheaper premises or even thinking of moving production to countries with cheaper production costs.

It was not sudden but a slow realisation that something was not right more or less at the end of last year, we heard about problems in America but it seemed far away from us until we took part in an exhibition in February and did not sell anything.

We reduced our holiday spending and my wife is keeping a close eye on the supermarkets for better deals on food and drink. We are not replacing any furniture or spending money on the house.

We are lucky so far but I am worried about the longer term. I do not see our kids so often now as they live abroad and we have cut down on travel.

Dave and Jill Segrove, Arizona, USA
Web designer and small business owner
Cutting back

From a personal perspective, we (my wife Jill and I) are cutting back where we can. We're not what I would call "desperate" but we figured that if we seriously economize now, it'll give us a buffer between now and whatever follows. Like many of the people we know, we're cutting back on trips by car. Here in Arizona in the summer that doesn't leave much in the way of alternatives. Public transportation is almost non-existent, inconvenient and unreliable. We try to "batch" our trips to get as much done as we can. We'll try to put off a "one-off" journey if at all possible and wait for a time when we can get that errand accomplished with others.

We're very seriously considering growing our own vegetables and possibly fruit. We've got over 300 days of sunshine a year here so we might as well make use of it. It's a bit of a novelty and we're learning about desert gardening, what will grow in this heat, watering etc. While we may find we have somewhat less of a selection than at the store, at least it'll be cheaper and home-grown. I think the shock of produce prices and availability is just starting to sink in for a lot of people.

We're actually getting ready to put our own house on the market to move to a smaller home, single storey (we've got two floors here) that'll be cheaper to cool. A little over a year ago we had six figures in equity. We consider ourselves fortunate that, unlike many people, we didn't pull the equity out at the time and found ourselves upside-down and going the same way as everyone else.

I worry.

Aya, Cairo, Egypt
Age: 25
Bank worker
Going out less
Food prices have gone up considerably. In my family, whatever we used to buy daily, we now buy weekly. Whatever we used to buy by the kilo we now buy by the half kilo. We buy less and make it last. We love cheese in our house and we used to buy 3kg a week, now we only buy a single kilo and we try to make it last for longer.

I have invested in the stock exchange but I have lost 15-25% on the value of my investments, as falling share prices around the world have affected our markets.

My car renewal fees have doubled in the last couple of months and we use diesel rather than petrol because it's half the cost.

My social life has suffered. I used to go out everyday but now I am very strict and I just go out at the weekends because it's much more expensive. Restaurant owners are now charging a minimum charge whereas before we used to pay for what we consumed whether that was food or drink.

I'm not optimistic about things improving soon but here in Egypt we have experienced high foreign investment in tourism, agriculture, finance and banking.

Harry Fuller, Edinburgh, UK
Age: 63
Technical liaison engineer
Delaying retirement
The value of my pension fund, home and shares have been decimated as I approach retirement. I'm 63 and I was hoping to retire this year but I won't be able to do so because I can't afford it.

The whole financial system needs a speedy radical overhaul, to protect the hardworking honest backbone of the UK.

I have been working for 45 years and I have never claimed unemployment benefit. Since the credit crunch the value of my home has fallen by 5-10% and I think I would struggle to sell it in the current climate.

Less than a year ago my Halifax shares were worth 10,000, now they are only worth 3,000.

However, I am cautiously optimistic about the future. I really believe this credit crisis has been a massive reality check for both banks and borrowers. This shall hopefully lead to more prudence by both. I still have concerns about young singles and couples trying to get on the housing ladder. Hopefully the goverment and banks together can come up with a workable plan to assist them.

I think, in some ways, I have been fortunate, as it's a lot harder for today's young people to look forward to a well-funded retirement.


Sirivat Voravetvuthikun, Bangkok, Thailand
Age: 59
Food and drink salesman
Planning to float company on stock exchange
I started my sandwich business in April 1997 during the Asian economic crisis when I had to close down my real estate company and lay off my 40 staff. I lost some 100 million bahts (about 1.4m) in the local stock market and eventually I was declared bankrupt.

I sell sandwiches and sushi brown rice. I also provide coffee catering, and I have a Coffee Corner which is like a popular coffee shop you have in the West.

Although there has been a "global credit crunch" in the past 12 months, I have not been affected at all like others. On the contrary, I am expanding my business because I have been implementing our beloved King's "self-sufficiency economy" principle: be considerate; self dependence; self protection; don't depend on other people's money. In other words, I was hit by the 1997 crisis but this time I am bouncing back amidst the world's economic recession.

I have not been spending any money on luxuries or leisure activities. On the other hand, I have spent money for my three children's university education to prepare them for future management of our listed company.

My current plan is to open the third Coffee Corner at Fashion Island (a big and modern shopping mall on the outskirts of Bangkok) by mid-September 2008. My future goal is to list my business in the MAI (Market for Alternative Investment) stock market by the end of 2009 to raise public fund; to have thousands of public shareholders; to open more Coffee Corners and eventually hoping to sell 100,000 sandwiches a day in Bangkok by 2015. I will set up a Sirivat Sandwich Institute (to be a "think-tank" to upgrade our business operations and a training school for our staff and our future franchisees) to back up our business.

Today, I have become an icon of a person who does not give up and has persevered for the past 11 years with strong determination to bounce back. I am on my way to succeed.

Dave Percival, Thika, Kenya
Age: 51
Vehicle manufacturer
Expects continued growth

I run the vehicle assembly plant that was originally Leyland Kenya - we make trucks and buses. I employ 101 permanent members of staff, plus 50 contractors and 300 piece-rate workers. Normally we assemble 80-100 vehicles per month but right now we're working on 26. Orders will stay low until mid September, when they resume normality. This break was because our shareholders and many other big Kenyan companies decided to retain their order base to make sure that the lines of credit through the finance houses wouldn't get jittery. As it was, this succeeded and they dropped orders in May and June to deal with the selling shortfall, and it is now coming back with a vengeance.

Of course we are in a country whose currency is linked to the US dollar, and we are therefore experiencing the results of its continuing weakness. And, yes, we have seen prices rise, as has the cost of fuel. It has not been in any sort of shortage though. And, yes, we are totally subject to the world economy. And at the same time we are one of the five countries left in the world with big game. There isn't a lot of it left in the world in the wild, and it's all here. The tourism trade is not going to go away as long as these big animals are still able to use the habitat set aside in the 47 national parks and sanctuaries.

Public transport is where we see growth, and this is what we have been investing in for the past four years. It will continue to grow as the population growth is still around 3% per annum, despite the aids pandemic, so we will see this continue to grow almost regardless of what else happens.

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