Homepage > News > Biz > 

Yearender: World weathers financial storm with expected sunshine ahead

2009-12-23 08:37 BJT

by Xinhua writers Liu Si, Yu Zhixiao, Ding Yi

BEIJING, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) -- If a country in 2009, in its economic sense, is likened to an aircraft carrier arduously sailing forward in the global financial storm, then a company is like a warplane on board and every citizen is like a sailor.

Over the past year, every "sailor," "warplane" and "aircraft carrier" across the world have been breaking their necks to pull out of the financial crisis, the worst since World War II, and now the sun seemingly is on the horizon despite some lingering clouds.


At lunchtime on a winter day, a 39-year-old Japanese office worker was choosing his lunch at a crowded convenience store in downtown Tokyo. He first picked up a box lunch priced at 598 yen (6.7 U.S. dollars) but put it back after second thoughts. Then he took up a 550-yen (6.1 dollars) one but again returned it. At last, he decided on a 480-yen (5.4 dollars) lunch and went to the cashier.

"I used to have lunch at the restaurants nearby and it would cost 800 yen (9 dollars)," said the guy who would only give his name as Nakagawa in front of a microwave oven while heating his box lunch. "But now, I will spend no more than 500 yen (5.6 dollars) on lunch."

Throwing a slice of pickle into his mouth, the office worker said, "I got only 30,000 yen (336.7 dollars) from my wife as pocket money during recent months while it used to be 50,000 (561.2 dollars) yen last year."

After finishing off all the food in the box, Nakagawa waved and rose to leave in a hurry.

"I had to finish my day's work before off-duty time because the boss asked employees to avoid working overtime as much as they could to reduce the company's expenditure," he explained before quickly disappearing into the street.

Meanwhile, on the opposite coast of the Pacific, the global economic downturn has affected many Americans' lives, especially those who lost their jobs.

Steven Nylon, an engineer at one of the U.S. Big Three automakers, General Motors (GM), told Xinhua in Detroit recently that he was totally "shocked" when he was unexpectedly laid off last March.

Forcing an uneasy smile, Nylon, a father of two children, said," Right now, I spend more time looking for a job than I used to spend working every day. This kind of day, without any achievement, is unbearable."

Lifestyle adjustments were inevitable. Nylon's wife, Stephanie, who had stayed at home to take care of their children since the birth of their first child, recently began looking for a job.

The Nylons are also considering downsizing to a smaller home to reduce their mortgage, real estate tax and maintenance expenses.

Nevertheless, coming into this challenging holiday season, Nylon has a much better attitude toward these unexpected changes in his life. No longer angry or depressed, he is taking every opportunity to enjoy life and prepare for future.

"This week, I just downloaded a 3D model software to upgrade my knowledge base. I also cooked dinner for my wife and kids today and did a large basket of laundry."

Like Nylon, Michael Balboa, a former fund manager in London, also holds a positive attitude, and moreover, perceives new opportunities from the financial crisis.

After being stuck in the mud of the bear market like most investors, Balboa discovered a potentially large market in consulting to banks on how to deal with the mass of non-performing assets and established an assets management company with his partners in March.

"I found the new opportunities quickly," he said. "I just thought through the crisis by changing my angle."

Under the context of the global economic recovery, the company has carried out its business in London, New York and Singapore.

Instead of being depressed like most investors, Balboa said with a smile that he would probably go to Spain to enjoy the sunshine with his family this Christmas holiday.