In the UK, where I am based, the impact of the US housing slump has, in the middle of September, wreaked havoc in the banking and political systems. The crisis in the US sub-prime mortgage market has affected the climate for borrowing and lending around the world, but the immediate effect in the UK has been to expose the weakness of the nation’s eighth largest bank and fifth largest home loans provider, The Northern Rock bank. The government has, in an unprecedented move, stepped in to guarantee savers’ funds deposited with the bank, without limit, as its share value plummets. At least one other UK bank is also being viewed warily by the public and by financial institutions.
In an economy such as the UK’s, built largely on very heavy personal and national debt, these are worrying signs.
I suspect that other countries might well have similar problems in their banking systems if the financial turbulence continues.
As money supply becomes tighter around the world in the wake of the problems in the US, we must hope that the very encouraging signs of growth in the panel manufacturing industry, so apparent at the Ligna show in May, and since, are not adversely affected.
Some very significant news within our own industry is the takeover by Siempelkamp of Germany of the continuous press and energy plant division of Metso Panelboard of Finland (see p6), located in Hanover, Germany. As many readers will remember, the Metso Contipress was originally the Küsters continuous press, with its unique chain system behind the endless stainless steel belts.
It is also one of only three continuous presses on the world market (so far – we still await definite news from China on a new competitor press) and now Siempelkamp owns two of them.
The takeover came into effect at the end of September so it is still early days. Siempelkamp has announced that it will continue to supply spare parts for the Contipress, but has only mentioned continuing full manufacture of the energy plants at Hanover……