Will the looming recession bloom? Buck up

How many times have you asked, or been asked: ‘How is this recession affecting you?’ or ‘Have you noticed the slowdown yet?’

This seems to be the most looming of recessions – rather like the Year 2000 Bug. I’ve commented before that, despite the media panic, I am just hoping that Recession 2008/9/10 just isn’t going to bite like the media want it to… 

‘No, I’m not seeing much pressure on our sales – but I hear this new recession is going to be worse than the Depression of the 1920s’

Come on, folks. Technology and innovation continues to thrive. It is reskilling people, recalibrating the economy.

The pressure from the Credit Crunch is surely felt by the skew towards the finance sector. London is full of it. But, it’s not the only activity in London. The creative industries – from publishing to advertising to fashion and now also through digital – are resilient small businesses with feisty entrepreneurs looking after their livelihoods and employing a few people each. Most of us have been through a nasty web bust before in 2001, so we are still painfully aware of the emergency drills needed to cope with tough trading.

It’s just that the media likes to play up the house price drops (going down by 20%, but we’ve had that growth rapidly anyway). And, anyone in finance that you meet seems to bleat about the sky falling in – they don’t really have the 2001 battlescars.

At last, Samuel Brittan, the venerable economist who’s been writing in the FT since 1966, has come out to echo my point. He wrote an article at the start of 2008 entitled ‘High time for all of us to buck up‘. Then, last week he repeated this message in a piece entitled ‘Conditions for a rebalanced economy‘. Financial services account for 12 per cent of the UK gross national product. The ‘wholesale’ bits are about 4 per cent of that. So, finance is 8% of the economy and I bet that’s pretty similar in most developed countries. That says to me that finance isn’t the only engine of the economy – and if it’s suffering from an indigestion problem, other parts of the economy can compensate.

We know that commodity prices are having a bit of a spike and we’re all learning to go camping and to cycle to work. So, it’s technology that’s going to fix the economy. It will create efficiency. It will create new ways to trade and new products to buy. Technology and creativity will build the brands that the developed world will pay to consume. We need more digital, media, publishing, branding, design, advertising and the like.

Things are tough today. They will be tough tomorrow. For many small businesses in the agency and entrepreneurial space, they were pretty tough before and the challenge is no more, no less. We aren’t the guys who bleat. We are the guys who just f*** do it.


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