Posts Tagged ‘credit crunch’

Change, what change?

October 29, 2009

I’ve been around a bit in my life.

If I haven’t travelled the world, I have certainly travelled the work and non-work experience, as well as areas that few have to. I have been in politics, and out of it. I have been in journalism, and out of it. I have seen the financial, management and economic world at work. I have learned from uncomfortable and continued experience how wonderful our NHS and its dedicated people are.

I have done jobs near the ‘top’ and jobs near the ‘bottom’. I have met, worked with and helped and been helped by people at every level of society; and not helped by some all over the place too!

In that time I have seen a world in flux; from a post-WWII to a post-credit-crunch. Frankly, for all its deprivation and shortages, I think it was better half a century ago.

“But,” you will be shouting at me, “we have made progress. the internet and computer, the airplane travel and the food supply. Why even the clothing and housing is better; our cars, our supermarkets.

“It is not good enough yet, but even dealing with one’s debt problems is better!”

Of course it is. But is – that extraordinarily difficult thing to describe – life better?

Alright, tell me: how much direct contact with people do you have? People that are not your family or work friends? I mean face to face contact, socially and of concern for one another? And of concern about where you live, and how?

If you are a younger person how much interest do you take in your parents? How often do you see them, or contact them to check how they are? And if you are an older one, how much do you seek to advise your children?

Families: how often do you gather round a table for a meal and a chat?

And when did you last feel contented. Not contented with any specific; not happy or sad; not triumphant. But just able to be still and enjoy the world?

Even a century ago William Henry Davies [the poet of the tramps] had this to say about the ‘progress’ of the industrial revolution:

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to turn at beauty’s glance,

A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

Because of the pressures on me, partly over the debt issue, I have not been able to keep up this blog very well, far less stand and stare ;-). I am trying to rationalise how I do all this, so I am in the process of bringing the blog into my website and making the management of the whole far better.

Then I hope to write much more on the attempts to roll back all the advances made over treatment of debtors in recent years. Then, or at the same time, to prepare books of my poetry and write new poems. Then complete my book on how to create a better tomorrow. And then a few other things that I’d like to do.

Who knows, perhaps then I can just sit – or stand – and contemplate, well, just nothing; or at least nothing consequential.

Something to look forward to, anyway…

Joseph Harris

Is This Just a Financial Crisis?

September 20, 2008

Of course I ask the question because my answer is no! It is a crisis that has been gestating a long time and fingers in to every corner of activity. It all seems very arcane, very distant, and hard to understand how things can change so suddenly – in just a couple of years – from euphoric good living to threats of disaster.

The answer of course is that it has been going on a lot longer. Add to that that we are experiencing rapid changes in many aspects of life. There are many situations and conditions that have never been experienced before. And that means we have no prior understanding of how they fit in.

One of the effects has been that there has been credit sloshing around all over the place. And that is where we have come in. Debts of all kinds have boomed and one way or another we have all been caught up in the credit crunch.

The serious question has to be what effect the current crisis will have on that. And the best way I can give an answer is to give a broad idea of what has happened and what might put it all right.

It is my belief that the current text books of economics are not – cannot be – up to the new task. It is not that fundamental laws have changed, but that the complexities have become too great for easy understanding. In essence though, like a group of climbers ascending an icy sheer rock face, all nations are now tied together; each time one loses footing we all feel the strain and risk losing our own footing.

On top of this we are, like Atlas carrying the world, burdened with the great bubble of arcane derivatives that is the financial world, and overspent in the great debt crunch; as we should really call the credit crunch.

And our biggest problem is that, rather than pass out better quality pitons to hammer into the ice for safer footing, our oh-so-wise leaders and civil servants are trying to preserve the heavy weights of the derivatives. They might just as well be throwing sacks of money into a fast flowing river.

In fact the volatility of the exchanges round the world is a sign of the fast flowing river and the spinning boats caught in its flood. So far as I can see the only people benefitting from this are the crooks and gamblers who have already milked the system dry.

There are hard decisions to be made and part is to cut out the financial sector as one would throw away a barrel of apples that have gone rotten to the core. Hard? Of course. Possible? In the current climate probably not. But if it is not done, then a little way down the road the decision will be bigger and harder.

The actual mechanics of doing it are not obvious, but the first essential step is to stop throwing good money after bad. And that should be today’s resolution for Mr Paulson and Congress in America, and for Mr Brown and Mr Darling in Downing Street.

I do not paint a pleasant picture. And like the Cassandra you are already calling me, I forecast that it is not likely to get better. But the reason I am putting all this in this blog is because I believe that everyone, and in particular those worried about debt, should be keeping a constant eye on the situation and making their decisions about their own best route through bad times.

Normal blog service will be resumed as soon as I have stopped spitting tacks.

Joseph Harris
Debt Control Man