The global financial crisis continues to wreak havoc, with no signs of abating any time soon. It is now apparent that there is a long way to go before the financial free-fall bottoms out, and that the road back to recovery will be a long and painful one.
However, it is not too soon to begin thinking about how it was that we got to where we are and what steps must be taken immediately and in the future to minimise the possibility of such financial catastrophe striking again.
But while the crisis is certainly global, the specific fallout is unique to each country, and the solutions that each country must tailor are likewise unique to that country's situation. In Bangladesh what we need to do is to analyse closely what the impact will be and what steps we can take, first, to ameliorate the immediate negative consequences, and, second, to reduce our future vulnerability in this regard.
This month's Forum attempts to do precisely this, with the most penetrating analysis of the crisis from a Bangladeshi perspective that you will find anywhere in print. There are many areas of consideration: our export markets, manpower industry, foreign investment, foreign aid, investment, vulnerability of overseas holdings and investments, oil prices, food prices, and we attempt to take all of these into consideration to provide a comprehensive overview.
Things are volatile politically in the world as well as in Bangladesh. The US goes to the polls tomorrow in what many see as the most important US presidential election in living memory. This was the case even before the financial crisis hit, but now with economic policy so central to the country's (and the world's) well-being, the election takes on even greater significance.
Similarly, in Bangladesh, we go to the polls in less than six weeks. No longer will we have the luxury of voting, as in the past, on issues of identity and tribal identification. With the world in such turmoil, this election must be about policy, specifically economic policy, and who has the best vision to navigate Bangladesh through the treacherous waters of the next five years.
In this issue of Forum, we have identified what the salient issues will be. We can only hope that as campaigning gets under way that the political parties will also put the economy front and centre, and that their election campaigns will focus on the economy above all else.