The business world is in the midst of a period of turbulence not seen for a generation. Some commentators liken it to the Great Depression of the 1930s. Hopefully, that may be overstating the crisis, but there is no doubt that the credit crunch sent shock waves through the financial world. Venerable Wall Street institutions such as Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and Merrill Lynch have bitten the dust. And, what started as a crunch has become a more wide-ranging crisis, a series of shock waves hitting the world economy. The volatility of commodity prices, especially oil, and fluctuations in currencies are all part of a broader weather system affecting business everywhere.

In part, this reflects fundamental changes in the economic ...

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