Global Recession Roundup


Credit crisis claims $1 trillion; Dollar falls hard; Gold and silver rally; Honda slashes profit outlook; Motorola cuts costs; Valeo cuts 5,000 jobs; Woolworths closing its 807 stores in Jan.; E-trade growing and shrinking

With Morgan Stanley’s (MS) $2.2 billion loss in the third quarter, the carnage from the credit crisis passed the $1 trillion mark. About 67% of that came from U.S. financial firms, and about 30% from European firms, Bloomberg reported.

A day after the U.S. Federal Reserve’s deepest rate cut in history, the dollar fell hit fresh lows against other currencies. It fell toward a 13-year low against the yen and a two-and-a-half-month low against the euro, Reuters reported.

Gold and silver prices rallied yesterday (Wednesday) as the dollar declined. February gold futures climbed 4% to $872.90, while silver for March delivery climbed 7% to $11.45 an ounce on Globex, MarketWatch reported.
A strengthening yen and plummeting car sales forced Honda Motor Co. (ADR: HMC) to slash its full-year profit forecast by 62%. Japan’s second-largest automaker may also post its first half-year loss in 11 years, Bloomberg reported.

Trying to cut costs, troubled cell-phone maker Motorola Inc. (MOT) will suspend 401(k) contributions to worker retirement plans, freeze its pension plan, stop some raises and skim the salaries of two top executives.  “It’s a small step in the right direction, but it’s not going to save them either,” Nomura Securities technology specialist Richard Windsor told Reuters. “If you look at the degree the market has deteriorated since they last spoke to the Street, you could conclude that they will need more aggressive actions.”

Europe auto parts supplier Valeo SA said it will cut 5,000 jobs, 9.3% of its workforce, in face of slowing demand for cars, Bloomberg reported. “For 2009, Valeo anticipates no improvement in production levels compared with the fourth quarter of 2008,” the company said in a statement.

British retailer Woolworths will close its doors Jan. 5, leaving 27,000 people without jobs unless it finds a buyer. The 99-year-old retail company will close its 807 stores in tranches of 200 starting Dec. 27, Reuters reported.

Online brokerage E-Trade Financial Corp. (ETFC) said it added a net of about 26,000 new accounts in November. However, total customer assets fell 42% since November 2007, and 8% from October, the Associated Press reported.


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