Pestilence is the diseased financial system

War is contractual and trade disputes

Famine is the lack of orders


Death must be measured by the insolvency figures.

And they do look a bit on the pale side.

The base figures show a 56% increase in the number of liquidations across all sectors in the first quarter of 2009 compared with the same period a year ago.

So for anyone doing business it is a scary time out there, with a vastly increased chance of clients or suppliers going bust.

The industry breakdown for the liquidation figures for the first quarter have not been published, but the receivership, administration and company voluntary arrangements figures are available for Q1 2009.

These seem to be saying that after a shocking final quarter to last year the level of company collapses has eased back a bit within construction firms. This pattern is even more apparent among firms in the real estate business.

But, to put it in rough and ready terms, it looks as if construction firms are about twice as likely to fail as 18 months ago and property companies are three times as vulnerable - that is after a huge swathe went belly up just before Christmas.