20 thoughts on “Lehman Bros bank files for bankruptcy

  1. Inflation bites into Ramadan celebrations across Asia
    Agencies

    Kuala Lumpur, Sept 14: In Muslim households across Asia, the inflation crisis is casting a shadow over the holy month of Ramadan, and making the nightly ritual of breaking the fast a more meagre affair. From Afghanistan to Malaysia, the high prices of food are forcing the poor to go without, and curtailing the lavish evening buffets which the well-off have flocked to in better economic times.

    In markets and bazaars, the mood is sombre as traders complain they have few customers for their traditional Ramadan fare, as people cut back on treats and delicacies. “Our business strategy this year is just to stay afloat,” said Azahari Wahab as he prepared “ikan bakar” barbequed fish over a wood fire at a Ramadan street market in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.

    “I have been trading in bazaars for the past 20 years and this is the worst year for me. We usually prepare about 100 kilogrammes of fish a day but this time it is down to 30-40 kilos,” he said. As well as the lack of customers, he said the price of his ingredients had risen “more than 100 percent”, as he packed a cooked fish heaped with spicy dressing in a banana leaf.

    The fasting month, which culminates with joyful Eid al-Fitr celebrations, is a time of reflection during which Muslims abstain from eating, drinking, smoking and sex from dawn to dusk. In Afghanistan, one of the world’s poorest countries, the markets are packed with festive foods but the price of wheat alone has doubled over the past year and few can afford the pickles, sweets and special breads.

    “We didn’t have enough food before Ramadan anyway. For us, it’s the same,” said bus driver Mohammad Gul. “For the poor, it’s always Ramadan.” In a crisis compounded by the Taliban-led insurgency that has hampered development and the delivery of food aid, the British charity Oxfam has warned that up to five million Afghans face severe food shortages as winter looms.

    “The food prices are very high,” said civil servant Ghulam Haidar in the capital Kabul. “It’s very difficult for poor people to buy them the prices are scary.” Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim nation, saw a spike in the price of food in the lead-up to the fasting month, putting pressure on families already hit hard by sharp rises in subsidised fuel prices.

    Families in Jakarta have said rising food and fuel prices are limiting spending power for the nightly festivities. “I used to serve dessert for my family to break the fast before we had the main meal consisting of rice. But as everything has become very expensive we can’t afford it anymore,” said Nena, a mother of six.

    Across the region, at five-star hotels and government functions, sumptuous spreads are still on offer but there are fewer takers and prices have been slashed. “Business is quite slow this year compared to last year, at least 20-30 percent less,” said Rosihan Anuar Ahmad, sales director at Kuala Lumpur’s glitzy JW Marriott where the buffet is half what it costs at other hotels.

    “We are pricing our buffet strategically to attract customers to come and dine here and we are banking on big companies to treat their staff to a Ramadan dinner,” he said.

    In Bangladesh, where food prices traditionally spike during Ramadan, the government set up 7,500 special markets in the lead-up to the holy month, selling subsidised rice and other staples as the country grapples with food prices 45.5 percent higher than a year ago.

    “We’ve tried not to put up prices of common items so that poor people will still come,” stallholder Mohammad Shukkor Miah said at Chawkbazar in the old quarter of the capital Dhaka. “We have about half as many customers and our profits are lower. We have had to put up the price of specialty items and fewer people are buying those.”

    The traditional purchase of new clothes for Eid has been one of the first things to be sacrificed by Muslim families battling the tough economic times. “We are not getting good response this year. There is a drastic decline of customers in bazaars,” said Irfan Beg, owner of a large garment store in the Pakistani capital Islamabad.

    “Last year we had to hire extra salesmen to meet the Eid rush but there are very few customers in the market this year. People say they cannot buy traditional “iftar” items, how can they think of the Eid luxuries?” While national leaders and newspaper editorials recommend the faithful hold more simple celebrations this year, some feel that financial constraints should be put aside during the holy season.

    “What is Eid without the food, cookies and clothes? It is a time to celebrate and thank Allah for his blessings,” said Raina Samat, a 23-year-old sales assistant in Kuala Lumpur.

    http://www.centralchronicle.com/20080915/1509162.htm

  2. Investors protest over bank losses

    Hong Kong: Hundreds of investors who lost their money when Lehman Brothers collapsed last September have marched to demand the resignation of the Chinese territory’s leader, amid anger at the Hong Kong government’s handling of allegations that local banks misled clients about complex investments.

    The 400 protesters chanted: “The Lehman issue hasn’t been resolved,” and “Donald Tsang, step down,” referring to Hong Kong’s chief executive.

    http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/news/world/World-in-brief111

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