Tag Archives: doom and gloom

Happy Thoughts and Inconvenient Truths

20120107 Smiling Train Tray Clip 150x150 Happy Thoughts and Inconvenient Truths

Gideon sent in this picture taken on an international train in The Netherlands.  Look at its smile! It is happy!  And a happy new year to you too!  As we entered the new year, David Cameron tried to force a smile too.

In his New Year statement Cameron attempted to “big up” the UK in 2012 and force happiness against a backdrop of numerous murder stories in the last couple of weeks and, of course, more pending economic doom and gloom.  He attempted to make us feel positive by focusing on the opportunities ahead.  After all, 2012 is the year of the long-awaited Olympic Games in London.  Also, some old lady is celebrating some 60th anniversary or other… Was it the 60th anniversary of the Queen’s membership of the Bratwurst Appreciation Society or something?  I forget, but it’s another day off work, so what’s not to like?  It’s also a day of lost productivity in the UK.  But the state of the economy is an inconvenient truth and no-one wants to hear bad news.  Happy, happy, happy – be happy.  Get it?

Other interesting events this year’s calendar include the UEFA Euro 2012 (where we will see The Netherlands become European Champions) and the US Presidential Election.  On reflection there isn’t an awful lot on in the first half of the year, so it’s a great time for hibernation and pretty much feeling miserable if you’re that way inclined… No!  Be happy!

An Inconvenient Truth

All credit to David Cameron for trying to sound positive – the silly “posh white boy”, to quote Diane Abbott.  Ah yes, she made the news again this week over more racially charged comments, but this time on Twitter.  In case you managed to miss this item of non-news, she made a sweeping generalisation about white people and mentioned “colonialism”.  Whilst this was obviously a poor judgment on her part considering she is a Member of Parliament, I think it has been taken out of proportion and it was clearly meant to be read in context.

There is a broader truth that we in the West have for a long time oppressed people in the Far East, the Middle East, in Africa and so on and the error she made was in trying to condense that sentiment into 140 characters.  I get the impression this is just another inconvenient truth people don’t want to hear about and instead pick out one small detail.  Don’t get me wrong, I have no particular affinity for Ms Abbott; I am merely an observer, looking at (not watching) the show from a distance. 

Discrimination and Inequality

There are other forms of discrimination that ought to have everyone up in arms on a similar scale but don’t.  Here is an example written in the format of a Twitteresque soundbite:

Pay gap between men and women stood at 9.1% in November 2011” (61 Characters)

The Independent newspaper seemed to put a positive spin on that story at the time, saying that it was down from 10.1% in April.  But that’s still a large gap based on nothing but gender discrimination.

From racial discrimination, to gender discrimination to inequality: Here’s another one for you, from an article in The Guardian newspaper:

Top 10% have incomes 12 times greater than bottom 10%, up from eight times greater in 1985, thinktank’s study reveals.” (118 characters)

No mass media furore resulted.  It’s just another bit of bad news that we can’t do anything about, so let’s not talk about it.  An inconvenient truth. Happy, happy, happy thoughts… Right?

Now come clap your hands with me!

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Economic Doom and Gloom: A Starbucks Dystopia

20111203 Massage Chair Face 150x150 Economic Doom and Gloom: A Starbucks Dystopia

This picture of a massage chair was sent in by Tim. If only it had been framed a little lower it would have been perfect.  Are you sitting comfortably?

There was more economic doom and gloom this week and about a week ago I tweeted a story about the OECD predicting a double-dip recession for the UK in 2012.  The mainstream media reported the story two days later.  In George Osborne’s Autumn Statement growth for 2011 was slashed to 0.9% and the pension age raised to 67 –  fifteen years earlier than planned.  Public sector workers went on strike over pension arrangements, mistakenly believing they have the God-given right to be exempt from the Global Financial Catastrophe.  I don’t generally subscribe to Tory slogans and ideology, but did someone say, “We’re all in this together”?  Give that man a biscuit and his dog a cigar!  Most of us would be lucky if we could retire at all.

10 days until Eurogeddon

In another corner of Europe, EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn warned that we had “10 days to save the Euro”.  With previous warnings that another Eurozone country bailout would spell disaster for the global economy, this should have had us trembling in our boots.  The thing is, headlines like these are beginning to lose their impact.  It’s a bit like crying wolf, except there really is a wolf and it’s such a gigantic ravenous bastard, there’s nothing you can do; it will eat you and all your friends but no-one cares anymore.

But really, 10 days?  We have known about this crisis for months and we’ve had that long to do something about it.  Why the sudden self-imposed urgency that’s only going to aggravate markets when deadlines are inevitable missed?  Incidentally, those bilateral liquidity swap arrangements: did you see the markets jump on the news?  Utter nonsense in my opinion; I suspect we’ll see a “correction” in the near future (he says, writing as a bewildered cynic).

As I write, there is talk of a Eurozone fiscal union and an new EU treaty, which actually sounds quite exciting, particularly when watching a debate between Nigel Farage (UKIP) and Matt Hancock (Conservatives) on Channel 4 News last night, in which the Conservative Party looked refreshingly progressive, albeit because their hand is being forced.  Stability has to be good for the Eurozone and for Britain.

I’m keeping my eyes on the Italian 10- year bond yield, though.

Starbucks Dystopia

In a previous article I rhetorically posed the question about the end game in global economics.  Jon Snow of Channel 4 News fame recently tweeted that 2011 is the year the “expert” died, referring to the fact that no-one had predicted the Arab Spring.  By extension, there are so many so-called financial “experts” who have disparate outlooks; the gold bugs, the doom mongers, the profiteers like Alessio Rastani (who incidentally predicted a collapse of a large UK-based bank in early 2012 based on unconfirmed rumours in the city).  Max Keiser thinks we are all going to end up playing Zynga games in virtual gulags.

My dystopian vision for the future? Last week it was reported that November saw a decline in manufacturing, it being at its lowest in 2.5 years, whilst Starbucks announced it would create 5,000 jobs in the UK.  I reckon we will all end up working for Starbucks, serving each other coffee, the same coins going round and round in a poverty-inducing vicious circle, as we all become ever more addicted to caffeine.

Are you still sitting comfortably?

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