New Century Financial is sinking fast. It may well be that by the end of this week it will have slipped into bankruptcy.

Today, trading in New Century shares was suspended. The second largest US subprime mortgage lender reported to the SEC that its banks had cut off the credit lines. The company also reported that some lenders had demanded that it accelerate its obligations to buy back outstanding mortgage loans financed under various lending agreements. Moreover, the company said that if all its creditors decided to pursue a similar course of action, then New Century would have to find at least $8.4 billion of cash. Mmmm, $8.4 billion – now that sounds like a pretty big stack of cash to pony up in just a week.

There was a time, and it was not so long ago, that New Century shares traded at $66, giving a market cap of $3.7 billion. How long ago you ask: just three short years ago. Just before the shares were pulled from the market, New Century was worth just $178 million. Many bloggers have drawn some comparisions between today’s subprime mortgage market and the tech bubble. At the risk of repeating a well-worn point, the New Century numbers look an awful lot like

This is the beginning of end, my friends. Hold on; where New Century walks today, others will follow.