US Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke has said the American economy is now in a "very serious slowdown" and more government spending may be needed to combat economic weakness.
BBC News readers from around the world share their personal experiences and thoughts on the financial crisis.
MARTYN GREEN, TEACHER AND FREELANCE WRITER, HONG KONG
There's no question of 'downsizing' my business - it is as small as it could get already, just me. As a freelance writer-photographer and English teacher, my business has most definitely shrunk.
Martyn says he is not even making rent at the moment
Six weeks ago I had 12 students. Now I'm down to three. Right now, I'm not even making my rent.
One of my former students in the banking sector has been told to lay off staff and look for new premises to save money.
Most of my savings were in the Isle of Man's Kaupthing, Singer & Friedlander bank - which has collapsed with uncertain protection for depositors.
CLAUDIA PEREZ-HURTADO, STUDENT, NORTH CAROLINA, USA
My family owns a small business that works with the Hispanic community here. We offer translation services and help people fill out tax returns. We have several full-time employees and several more part-time.
Our business has not been doing well recently. Last year my parents invested money in a small local bank. This has made it easier for us to secure a loan to keep our business afloat.
Along with rent, bills, and payroll we are having to cut back on any expense outside the essentials.
We see the value of operating at cost or even a loss knowing that having to train people later will be a bigger expense.
I don't understand why, in a capitalist system, we are bailing out the major banks that have failed. Would a small business, like one my parents run, be helped out?
ZAHEER BABER, BUSINESS OWNER, BRUSSELS, BELIGIUM
We run a leather business in Belgium and France and are seeing a real down-turn in the market. I've been in Belgium for 10 years and this is the worst that I remember.
We sell our items in the high street and on the wholesale market. For the last couple weeks in particular we have seen less people buying our goods.
I'm finding it impossible to get a mortgage
It is a psychological problem - as fear of the future start to hit people and they cut back on spending.
The psychological impact is also affecting large banks. I'm finding it impossible to get a mortgage on a property I've been looking at despite having a good credit history.
HALUK DAG, JOURNALIST, ISTANBUL, TURKEY
Turkey is used to economic crisis - the last one was in 2001 when our banking system totally collapsed.
Haluk says 2009 will be a difficult year
The global crisis has been caused partly by people defaulting on mortgages. Very few people have mortgages in Turkey today - most people rent or buy outright. But foreign banks control more than 40% of our banking system so we've been affected by the crisis.
We consume expensive oil world because of high tax rates. It affects everything in our lives. Inflation and unemployment rates are rising. People are very worried and afraid about losing our jobs.
There is a strong tradition of families helping each other financially at times of economic trouble in Turkey, so this will reduce the impact of the downturn.
But 2009 will be very difficult. People around me go out less and reduce their expenses. I've already revised my holiday plans.
DAVID CORMIER, INVESTMENT BANKER, TOKYO, JAPAN
I came to Japan in 2002 when the country was just emerging from a recession of 10 years.
David is anxious about his savings
I have been very prudent, keeping my consumption low, paying in cash and putting money aside. But now that banks are keeping interest rates low the rates I get don't reflect the market price for cash.
Worse, if my bank goes bankrupt, I lose most of my savings. I put my money into Canadian banks because of earlier worries about the Japanese banking system. But the Canadian government has been slow to guarantee deposits. Although the economy may appear strong in Canada, it lags behind the US. If people start to panic and withdraw their money, this could hit all of us with savings.
People here may worry about jobs but they could be insulated from the worst of the crisis. Japan has already been through the perfect financial storm. Today Japanese banks are more cautious than their western counterparts. Consumers are more careful with their money and save more than the westerners I know.
NICK IVASHCHENKO, STUDENT, KIEV, UKRAINE
There are few Ukrainians involved in trading shares and the stock market. But prices have been gradually increasing for some time.
Nick is disappointed with the political situation in Ukraine
I am afraid that it will be difficult for students with the rising costs on food, books and transport.
The thing that really annoys me is the dissolution of parliament ahead of elections in December.
This political paralysis is not helpful at a time of economic turmoil. Companies will just start leaving the country. Two of my friends have already lost their jobs in foreign companies.