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Archive for the ‘Economic Crisis’ Category

Now that everyone has pretty much stopped denying that we’ve in a recession, I suppose we should brace ourselves for the deluge of books on how-to-survive-on-bugger-all . Still, India Knight’s Thrift Book  — extract in the Times — looks as if it might be worth a read. She reminded me about the aspirin face pack for a start and she’s introduced me to Lily Lolo mineral make-up. I’ve not tried out the aspirin yet but I’ll do practically anything in the name of beauty — and Lily Lolo sell tiny samples, so you can try it all out. Anything to make me look a bit less hideous (spots/no sleep).

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Or will there be some benefits brought about by the current/upcoming recession? Alice Thomson on the Times Online tries to put a positive spin on things, in her Why the Recession is a Blessing in Disguise  article. From the tone taken by a good number of people who left comments on the article, I don’t think there’s a great deal of agreement with Thomson’s take on the situation. But I guess when individuals are faced with the loss of their livelihoods, their savings and possibly their homes, you can see why it irritates the hell out of them when they’re told we should look on the bright side of things.

I think it’s the uncertainty and the sense of powerless that gets to people the most, however much they try to think positively. And there’s comes a point when there is a fine line between being a positive thinker and being in denial.

It didn’t help that Thomson opened her piece with the information that some of her friends had now used the current crisis as an opportunity to ‘downscale’ and had taken off to Venice for a bit. Seemingly, their family were loving it (we’re so pleased for them). She did acknowledge that, unlike those ‘City folk’ the rest of us will just have to ‘sit it out’ but I still had the impression that she is seriously out of touch with how most people live; the idea of ‘downscaling’ to Venice should have rang a few alarm bells with her — even if she was attempting some irony/sarcasm.

Thomson points to a cheaper cost of living as one benefit of the recession. She mentions that high street prices are dropping and draws attention to the biggest discounting in years: cheaper toothbrushs, £1 pizzas (no thanks), home entertainment centres now around a third cheaper than they were three months ago. Whoopee doo. When I read that, the first thing I thought of was that yet more small businesses will be put under unbearable financial strain when they can’t compete with the large-scale discounters and that the whole situation has job losses written all over it. And I don’t think her friends in Venice will be feasting on £1 pizzas. It is also a pretty safe bet that — whilst those on lower incomes may be able to have a field day in the discount stores (and the the middle-incomes may be forced to slum it for some basics) — we will be squeezed dry in all other manner of ways and find ourselves in an overall poorer state.

So we are totally in the shit and it’s going to get worse. Or perhaps not. That’s the thing about the current situation — nobody really seems to know just deep it will go or how bad it will get — and if they do know, they’re not saying, in case it induces yet more panic.  Panicking makes it worse and it seems that panic itself, together with a lack of confidence and trust (and not forgetting, an extraordinary level of greed), has had a large part to play in the whole crisis. Depending how all this plays out, it may be the case that we look back on this time as a point when the madness ended. On a smaller scale it may bring home to us just how much we are all caught-up in  a set of circumstances where a great many of us try to shop our way out of unhappiness  — and on a larger scale it may be seen as a time when the craziness behind the global financial systems was finally exposed to the masses. It might be too much to expect but perhaps the banks and the ‘bankers’ may lose some of their arrogance now they have been exposed as greedy incompetents and have had to suffer the indignity of being subject to various bail-out measures.

So, Thomson does have a point: there will be some good from this but it’s pretty callous to celebrate the gains without fully acknowledging the losses. We can never ignore the untold misery brought about by a desperate lack of money and I think many people are rather too nervous about the current situation to look on the bright side just yet. And there is a massive amount of resentment out there just now — a feeling that this situation was brought about by greed and mismanagement and there is an almost certain knowledge that if there’s any suffering to be done, the pain will be in no way equally shared.

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