I sort of wish I hadn’t got out of bed this morning. I rushed into Edelman towers to hear our star studded panel of experts gaze into their crystal balls for 2009 to be told I may as well pull up the bloody draw-bridge…..but that it was good that I speak English and am in an “international value-added services industry”. Not the most substantial of straws to cling to in the storm is it?
Present were, Vince Cable, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, David Frost, Director General, British Chambers of Commerce, Jim O’Neill, Head of Global Economic Research, Goldman Sachs, John Waples, Business Editor, Sunday Times all of them very well chaired by the brilliant Patience Wheatcroft, former Sunday Telegraph Editor, Non-Executive Director, Barclays Group (interviewed above by Paul Afshar of Despatch Blog).
Some bullet-points from what was said (that I won’t attribute) that I found interesting but which left me glum:
* Economics is known as the ‘miserable science’ for good reason. We think the world economy will now grow at 1% but as
late as September this year we were forecasting 2.6%
* Personal consumption in the US will have a bigger drop than at any time since World War Two
* The government owns Northern Rock so why not make it a National Bank and lend as the government would want banks to
* If HBoS and Lloyds can now merge, then why not next year M&S and Sainsburys?
* We are in a period of time where the public need pantomime villains and right now they are the bankers (one of the
speakers recalled recently being at a dinner event where a table of bankers had bread rolls thrown at them)
* Growth will not return to the UK until the second or third quarter of 2010
* There is going to be a lot of conflict between private and public sector workers as one set get laid off and the others
remain insulated with index linked pensions
* The politics of identity are already creeping in and they are about scapegoating people who appear to be different. It is
driven by anger and personified by the success of the BNP
* One of the speakers pointed out that presently the UK brick industry was being ‘mothballed’ because of lack of demand and
that this might mean when we did resume building again we would have to import bricks from Poland
Only one thing to say really; “Always look on the bright side of life . . . . . ”