What the latest stock market crisis means for you
So what's going on, and what does it mean for you?
The problem, yet again, is Greece. It is now perilously close to bankruptcy, which would plunge the bond world into crisis, bring the Euro to a tipping point, and have far-reaching consequences. The reaction from the markets has been swift and painful, and yesterday saw £22 billion knocked off the value of UK shares.
So what does it mean for you?
One key issue is whether the banks will fail. There are widespread concerns as to the exposure they have to the debt of struggling nations. This is true across Europe, which is why French banks saw 10% of their value wiped out yesterday. On the plus side, UK banks are not exposed to the same degree. However, they do have links with banks in France and Germany, which means they face significant losses. Therefore it always pays to be cautious and be sure you are not holding any amount over the £85,000 threshold that the government protects in any one bank.
Then there is the question of what it means for your investments, including your pension. If you need the money in the next few years then this is a worrying blow as it could take a good while for recovery. However, if you are following standard investment advice (or if you are in a pension fund that automatically does so) then your investments will have been gradually switched out of risky shares as you approach the date when you need the money. Anyone saving for the longer term should be protected from the fact that markets tend to recover over the medium term.
So what does it mean for currency? The Euro is in crisis at the moment, as Greek bankruptcy could force it to pull out of the Euro, sending it into a tailspin. This has means large falls in the currency. Sadly there's no silver lining here. The Euro is falling fast against the dollar and the yen. However, the pound is falling too, so British travellers have benefited very little from the changes.
In all, the Greek crisis could have some serious pain up its sleeve. The real concern is that it leads to banking failures, which would reverberate across the world. Given that economic growth is on a knife edge in the West, this could be the crisis that pushes us back into recession and financial disasters across the world.
We don't yet know whether this is on the cards All we can do is hope for the best, and prepare our finances for the worst.