Friday 19 September 2008

Would you Credit Crunch that?!

It's only Thursday and this week we have experienced the Lehman Brothers collapse, the AIG shore-up and the takeover of HBOS by Lloyds TSB. Lehman Brothers workers left Canary Wharf on Monday with their desks emptied into cardboard boxes. It's been a whirlwind of a week.

But developments on a far smaller scale have been distracting me. I've have been monitoring the credit crunch and it's micro effect on the local economy for some months and small things keep on catching my eye. I walk past a pie and mash shop on the Bethnal Green Road most days on my way to work and in July there was a small, apologetic note in the window that read something like this: "With regret the price of pie and mash will have to go up to £2 on Monday because our suppliers have increased their prices". I meant to snap it with my mobile's camera but I was a bit self-conscious. (The owners might have thought I was from a rival PnM shop or just an arty-type studying East London anthropology and eating habits). The note's honesty struck me. Here was a food outlet that knew its clientele. Wholesale food price hikes were unavoidably being passed onto the punter but with a graceful, and regretful, warning.

Meanwhile just up the road - in fact on the Roman Road - a cash machine that dispenses £5 notes was allegedly being installed. I haven't checked it out yet, but the local free newspaper ran the story and described the decision to install the machines as a response to the gloomier economic conditions and the need for people to access smaller amounts of cash. It seems slightly mad when you think about it. Why bother? And yet, when you start to look at your own spending habits - or saving habits - a cash machine that gives you the fiver option seems like a good idea...

"...I just need a bag of chips (£1.70) and a sausage (£1), I'm covered on the drink front - 2 cans of London Pride in the fridge at home. What's this? A cash machine that only dispenses fivers? Just the ticket. I'll have £2.30 change to buy a loaf tomorrow, make some sandwiches for lunch and skipp the caff..."

Who needs excess cash when the aim of the frugal game is to underspend on your monthly budget and have some shrapnel at the end of the month? Let's have cash machines that dispense pounds and pence! Let's march arm in arm down the street and demand a CASHFLOW REVOLUTION! Yeah!

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