This recession is affecting all sectors from the car industry to retail, but, the finance sector is one of the hardest hit. The finance sector is one of Britain's most important sectors in terms of foreign currency earnings and national output. (The sector also makes a significant contribution to income tax and corporation revenues). With hedge funds and interbank lending both declining the Finances sector is in deep recession and rising unemployment.
The UK is not the only country to have a boom and bust in house prices, but, in the UK, the rise in prices was one of the largest. The fall in UK house prices has been one of the sharpest. Also, the UK has one of the highest rates of homeownership in the world. When house prices fall, it has an almost paralysing effect on the economy. The decline in wealth and confidence is a powerful negative impact on consumer spending, once a mainstay of the UK economy.
Low Savings Rate.
The strong period of economic growth in 2000-2007 was driven by consumer spending. The UK saw a rise in personal borrowing and a dramatic drop in the savings rate. In August, 2008, the savings rates was less than 1% - an historical low; compare this to a savings rate of 10%+ in 1994. People are highly indebted and the recession has been a stark reminder of this. I feel we have gone from an attitude of carefree spending to a new attitude of frugality as we try to improve our savings ratio. There is a sharp demand for higher savings.