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Happy Fourth of July!

Alex Ferguson writes

Happy Fourth of July, America.

In the first seven months of the year, it hasn’t been easy for you.

Hopefully the Budweiser, baseball, and burgers will take your mind on what has been a heady seven months for the Stars and Stripes.

While Wall Street is being battered by subprime problems – an issue that’s taking thousands upon thousands of jobs with it. Share prices are falling off a cliff, with the world’s reinsurance industry and your 401(K)s going the same way.

Administrators in Florida have had to go cap in hand to Berkshire Hathaway just in case the hurricane season costs Floridians more $25bn. If it does, then Warren Buffett’s Omaha-based behemoth will lend them $4bn- all for a ‘small fee’ of $224m (plus interest, of course).

You’ve had upheavals at AIG, the world’s biggest insurer. The Brit’s out and the American is back in charge - Independence Day indeed. Bob Willumstad, we wish you the best of luck.

And to boot, America’s had to bear the brunt of a series of catastrophes, that have cost hundreds of milions of dollars worth of damage and heartbreak in equal measure.

The Mississippi’s flooded its banks and cities in Iowa are underwater. EMC – an Iowan insurance company – has already said this would hammer operating profit – and we can probably expect more to follow suit. Tornadoes have ripped through the Mid-West – as well as Atlanta, and everyone will hope that the Atlantic ‘windy season’ doesn't arrive in Florida and the Carolinas with the same frequency that the tornadoes did.

Otherwise, you can all expect higher premium prices next year.

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