Business Eye: We’ve survived the meltdown

Alex Pratt
Alex Pratt

When WW2 veteran Bernard Jordan, 89, slipped secretly out of his care home and made his way to the 70th year D-Day celebrations across the Channel last week, it spoke to our deep national sense of resourcefulness and positive spirit in the face of seemingly impossible odds.

At no time has this national strength of character, of which we can be so rightly proud been put more to the test in recent decades than since the global financial meltdown in 2008.

When the Lehman Brothers hit the fan we discovered that our entire banking system had been busy secretly burning our wealth in a plot worthy of the baddies trying to undermine our way of life in a Bond movie.

Today, having held our nerve and done exactly the opposite it seems to the advice proffered by the IMF and others we now face a constellation of good news while others must suffer on in a weak position, a turn of events which last week saw Christine LaGarde of the IMF eating huge portions of humble pie.

The cherry on top is that the UK economy is now growing faster than any other western developed economy and looks set to outstrip 3% this year.

Look deeper and you will find unemployment is falling, there are many more people now in employment than at our previous economic peak and our strengthening economy is forcing the prospect of a raise to interest rates to hold back inflation.

Contrast this with Europe where the ECB had to cut their interest rate again last week as a defence against deflation.

Their banks will now have to pay interest if they don’t lend their money, or with China where the workforce is shrinking at 3 million a year.

True, we are not short of problems like a colossal debt overhang, falling productivity, and a housing shortage but compared to what could have been, I believe it is fair to say, while we have yet to make our way to safe ground, we have at least escaped under the wire of the brutal conditions others are still being forced to endure.

Despite an economic depression deeper and longer than the Great Depression and more severe than Japan’s lost decade, in Bucks we enjoy an unemployment claimant count of just above 1% and the best jobs prospects in the country for our young people.

Count your blessings guys and breathe a deep sigh of relief.