17 June 2012

That was week ending 15th June 2012

Looking back on the week before this week there is one question that seems to run through many of the news stories and that is “what is going to happen”?

Eurozone debt crisis

We would all like to know what is going to happen with this one. Or rather we all want to know what someone (anyone) is going to do about it.  So let’s have a go at working out what is going on.
First we have Ireland, Portugal and Greece who receive bailouts of various sizes and implemented a range of austerity measures to put their public finances in order. Then Greece says it likes the money but not the austerity so holds a series of inconclusive elections in the hope this will achieve a different result. What this different result might be is not clear even to the Greeks so it’s no good asking them what is going to happen.
In the meantime the bailouts for Portugal and Ireland appeared to be working. Then suddenly they might not be working and then again they might be. So the Irish and Portuguese are confused as well.
Spain absolutely definitely did not need a bailout but wouldn’t mind a bit of help to sort its banks out. This “bit of help” turns into a €100bn loan with no new austerity strings attached according the Spanish Prime Minister. For a very brief moment it seemed as if the Eurozone had at last actually come up with a solution for one country at least.  However all this did was to move the problem off the Spanish banks’ balance sheets and on to the Spanish government, demonstrating once again that filling a black hole with thin air leaves you with … a black hole. So the Spanish still do not know what is going to happen, even with the €100bn!
Then we have Italy who can’t even understand why they might have a problem at all and finally France. They elected a socialist government mainly to punish previous President Sarkozy for agreeing to austerity measures which were not first thought of by the French. The French belief is that there is no crisis in France and even if there was then only French solutions can be contemplated. Last week these included lowering the retirement age from 62 to 60 “in the interests of social justice” and making it much more difficult and costly for businesses to shed employees. Quite how this is part of a solution is something only the French can understand so not helpful for the rest of us.
And then we come to Germany whose Chancellor Angela Merkel has the answer which is that everyone else should become more like the Germans. What she has overlooked is that one, everyone else is starting from a different place and two, its never going to happen!
All of which means that looking to the Eurozone to provide the answer to “what is going to happen” will get us and them nowhere.

Meanwhile … back in the UK

Our government’s approach is that it is much more important to hold an inquiry into press standards and relationships with politicians than to address the needs of the economy. Indeed politicians from all sides seem to support this, as last week we even had Alex Salmond and Ed Milliband in front of Leveson.  The PM spent 5 hours there which, with all the rehearsal time he would have had to put in must have pretty much wiped his week out.
It does connect to the question “what is going to happen”?  In the case of Leveson the questions are can anyone remember what the point was of setting up this enquiry and has anyone any idea of what will happen at the end of it all, if we ever get there? Or will it just go on and on until every man, woman and child in the land has been questioned?
However in the middle of the week George Osborne (who I think has not so far appeared before the Leveson Inquiry) popped up to announce £145bn of cheap money for the banks. Wow that’s a big number, eat your heart out Espana! If George had this amount stashed away somewhere you would think he might have mentioned it before now. I mean it’s not the sort sum you would find down the back of a sofa.
Initially headlined as a boost to growth it quickly became apparent that it was actually pre-emptive action to help the UK economy deal with whatever fall out from whatever eventually happens in the Eurozone whenever that may be. Whilst this might seem a sensible and even bold step to take when it comes to the debt crisis you can think of a number, any number and it will still not be enough. However it is at least a signal from the UK government that something is going to happen and maybe soon.

So …..?

So that is all we have. Something is going to happen and it might happen soon. Nobody knows what will actually happen so it’s pointless worrying about what is going to happen until something does.
Is there anything the rest of us can do? The evidence is that there will be little or no growth in the UK or the world economy overall for the foreseeable future. What I believe we must do is to ensure we are “moving our businesses forward”, deliberately and effectively. This means defining what “moving forward” would mean for any particular business. This is not the same as the simplistic concept of business growth, or though that might well be an outcome of “moving forward”.

So have a think about what “moving your business forward” would look like for your business and why this could be the best way to cope with “what is going to happen”.

So that was some of the week before this week. We hope you found some of the above thought provoking and useful for you and your business. We trust you had a good weekend and hope you have a great week this week.

No comments:

Post a Comment