By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Last Updated: 8:37PM BST 06 Oct 2008
We face extreme danger. Unless there is immediate intervention on every front by all the major powers acting in concert, we risk a disintegration of global finance within days. Nobody will be spared, unless they own gold bars.
Investors will learn today whether the Paulson bail-out – fattened to $850bn (£480bn) by Congress – can begin to halt the death spiral in the credit system. So far, the response looks terrible.
Germany is now in the hot seat. The collapse of a rescue deal for Hypo Real Estate on Saturday threatens a €400bn (£311bn) bankruptcy that nearly matches the Lehman Brothers debacle for sheer scale.
During the past week, we have tipped over the edge, into the middle of the abyss. Systemic collapse is in full train. The Netherlands has just rushed through a second, more sweeping nationalisation of Fortis. Ireland and Greece have had to rescue all their banks. Iceland is facing an Argentine denouement.
The US commercial paper market is closed. It shrank $95bn last week, and has lost $208bn in three weeks. The interbank lending market has seized up. There are almost no bids. It is a ghost market. Healthy companies cannot roll over debt. Some will have to sack staff today to stave off default.