Page last updated at 17:35 GMT, Monday, 2 February 2009

How the world is feeling the pinch

Argentinian cattle agent Carlos Pujol says the price of beef has plummeted

It's not just people in the UK who are being hit by the economic downturn. BBC Radio 5 live went round the world to find out how others are being affected.


Argentina suffered an economic crash in 2001. Its recovery was largely based on agriculture, particularly cereals and beef production.

Carlos Pujol is a cattle agent at Buenos Aires Liniers Cattle Market. He buys from producers and sells to the meat packing plants.

"The demand has dropped here as in all sections of the economy, even though Argentine beef prices are subsidised internally. Even so, the market has contracted.

"Before the crisis we would make $20,000 a ton. Now we are making $10,000 to $12,000."


Ramjit Ray runs an advertising and marketing business in Calcutta.

"Business is definitely down. Things are not what they were a couple of months back. We have had to cut down on the number of people we had. A lot of people thought India will not get affected by what's happening in America and other places but now we have realised we are not insulated from the international world.

"The average Indian is not really affected - they live a hand to mouth existence. It is the middle class and the business class who are affected by the recession. I hope the recession ends very soon because things are really bad now. So if next year the recovery doesn't start, it's going to be really tough for all of us."


Goran Mawlud, of Auburn, Sydney, is unemployed and says he is in "big trouble".

Nassim Rezakhani
Nassim Rezakhani came from Iran to live in Sydney

"The problems around the world are affecting everybody. I'm in big trouble myself. I've applied for heaps of jobs. It's affecting me and my family. It's definitely very hard these days."

Mother of two Nassim Rezakhani, of Sydney, said: "I work full time and my husband works full time, so it hasn't really affected us. But I've got friends who have really been affected by it and they're struggling to pay their bills."

Richard Goscoomb, of St Thomas's Anglican Church, north Sydney, says there is a "sense of panic" in his neighbourhood.

"As soon as you see a downturn like this you're going to see a breakdown in the family unit and when we are already in a society that has lost a genuine experience of community, that is something that takes a great toll because people are already isolated. That sense of isolation goes hand in hand with fear."


Aladji Mohamed Sawadogo is a cocoa farmer and the chief of the village of Sinikosson, says cocoa prices are bucking the trend.

Aladji Mohamed Sawadogo
Aladji Mohamed Sawadogo sees cocoa prices improving

"There's never been a good cocoa price until now - things are now getting better. Now that I've finally made some money, I'm tired and I'm thinking of heading home to Burkina Faso to retire, because I can't work any more.

"When I first came here the work was really hard and at that moment the children were too young to work. So, it was just a question of slowly chopping down the trees and planting the cocoa bushes and there's never been much money to make."

However, exporter Ali Lakiss says the high prices are hitting demand.

"At the moment, because there's a deficit of cocoa, the market prices have risen. We're not getting good contracts because cocoa is too expensive.

"Then secondly, banks in Europe don't have any liquidity, they don't have confidence in people so the industry is pretty much in recession."

Farmer Billy Kouame Celestin lives in Nando, near the town of San Pedro.

"For Ivorian cocoa planters, we weren't benefiting from a high world price at the start of the cocoa season in October, but by the end of 2008 we started feel it. But we're not yet touching the income we were getting in 2002. Perhaps things are different on the world market, but here in Ivory Coast we've yet to reach the sort of prices we were getting in 2002."

Interviews by Phil Mercer in Australia, Candace Piette in Argentina, John James in Ivory Coast and Rahul Tandon in India.

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