The collective sigh of relief was almost audible late last week when the Fed cut its discount rate - the rate banks charge each other for lending.
Action from other central banks, including the European Central Bank, could follow this week. Analysts also rate the likelihood of the Fed cutting its formal interest rate at its meeting next month at 50 per cent or more. This is the rate charged to companies and other non-bank borrowers.
But still, this credit crisis is not going to away that easily. See more detailed analysis below, but in short here, the implications could be:
*A weaker Chinese economy. Roughly one-third of China's GDP is dependent on exports and if the US goes into recession, this is serious. Many overseas chemical projects have been justified by estimates of persistently strong demand from China for imported chemicals that will be re-exported as finished goods. Sales of locally made chemicals would, of course, also suffer
*Unfunded projects backed by smaller private companies being shelved.
But a lot of capacity in the Middle East and China is too far advanced to be cancelled. In the Middle East, many of the projects already under construction might come on stream bang on time because the producers there can make money in any market conditions. Projects under construction in China start up on schedule because the government wants to gain greater independence from imports.
Let's hope this crisis goes away, but if it doesn't why on earth didn't the supposedly smart people who run the global financial system realise the dangers? Joseph Stiglitz, a genuinely smart guy, has been warning for years about the risks, which he outlines in this excellent article