During a credit crunch, also known as a "liquidity crisis" or a "credit squeeze", the banks won't or can't lend. Investors can't or won't buy debts. Suddenly it's very difficult to borrow money. There is a lack of easy money. Consumers and businesses have less to spend. There could be serious ramifications for an economy.
Even if the credit crunch is narrowly define as something that affects just banks, private equity and hedge funds, there is little out there to suggest that the British economy is out of the woods. Around the world, banks remain reluctant to lend to each other - or anyone else, for that matter, except blue-chip corporations or mortgage customers who can afford to furnish lenders with large up-front deposits.
House prices are down 13 per cent year-on-year and rising; the boss of Countrywide, the country's biggest lender, says one in 11 borrowers are falling behind on their home loan payments; house repossessions were up 57 per cent in March compared to the previous year; consumer confidence has hit a 26-year low
Almost 7,000 has been wiped off the value of the average British home since October 2007, after house prices dropped for a fifth consecutive month, according to latest survey figures. Britain's average house price fell by a further 0.6 per cent, or just over 1,000, in March, on the heels of a 0.5 per cent decline in February, the Nationwide Building Society's most recent snapshot of market conditions shows (The Times March 2008).
Impacts on Interest Rates:
in the past few weeks 10 mortgage lenders, including the Royal Bank of Scotland, Alliance & Leicester and the country's biggest building society, the Nationwide, have increased some of their rates, despite the Bank cutting rates from 5.75 per cent to 5.5 in December.
Bank of England data shows that the average mortgage rate has been inflated. When interest rates were previously 5.5 per cent - in May last year - the average mortgage rate was 5.66 per cent but when rates moved back down to that level in December the average was 5.93.
Credit CRUNCH IN the United States
For more than half a century, Americans have proved staggeringly resourceful at finding new ways to spend money. But now the freewheeling days of credit and risk may have run their course in the United States - at least for a while and perhaps much longer - as a period of involuntary thrift unfolds in many households. With jobs shrinking, housing prices plummeting and debt levels swelling, the same nation that pioneered the no-money-down mortgage suddenly confronts an unfamiliar imperative: More Americans must live within their means.
For the 34 million American households who took money out of their homes over the last four years by refinancing or borrowing against their equity - roughly one-third of the nation - the savings rate was running at a negative 13 percent in the middle of 2006, meaning they were borrowing heavily against their assets to finance their day-to-day lives
Employment and credit crunch in UK
Indications of the severity with which the credit crunch is likely to hit working people in Britain are contained in a number of recent reports and press articles. These focus, firstly, on the impact of credit becoming more difficult to obtain and, secondly, on the cost of mortgages. According to the National Institute of