Sunday, November 22, 2009

Christmas lights hit squad

A fleet of Highland Council cherry-pickers arrived in town earlier this morning and had many of the Christmas lights up well before the morning rush for newspapers. Ashers High Street premises was also receiving a delivery of bread and cakes.
Christmas is coming yes, and there is a concerted effort to convince us that the economy has turned the corner, the Government has gone up a little in the polls with a 'feel-good' factor allegedly returning. Elsewhere though the odd dire warning being sounded, pessimistic noises in today's Sunday Times about the prospects for Scotland, for example, where the economy is more dependent on the public sector which will surely soon take a hit. More widely, I was watching a programme on the Fox news channel where, unusually, heretic views were being voiced. It was basically a conversation between two commentators that believed America had to stop living beyond its means immediately or the inevitable consequences will be even worse. It was suggested that Americans (relative to the real strength of their economy) should be living a lifestyle similar to that of the average Mexican. Perhaps the same criteria could apply to us?
What do Gurnites think of the prospects for the economy both locally and nationally, have we really turned the corner or are we just deluding ourselves if we think that the good times will come back? Will you be out with the plastic again this Christmas or will you be cutting back?


jjgittes1973 said...

Having lived in the good old US of A for a number of years, I would say that 'living beyond their means' is a considerable understatement, when describing the 'average' American lifestyle. It is the Land of the Free, so long as your credit card has a high enough limit, that is. Could you explain your comment concerning 'Mexicans' though? Sounds a tad condescending and generalised to me.

Graisg said...

Only repeating what I heard Jjgittes, assuming that many Mexicans live in dire poverty in comparison with the lifestyle the other side of the fence but perhaps others might have different views. Making no judgement here at all on anything else.

Bill said...

.. and Graisg said it was on Fox (so it must be true, lol).

All joking apart, though, I think that there are major 'adjustments' coming for many of the world's historically wealthier countries, not least Britain. It will be a stark choice between reducing services or hiking taxes (my guess it's the latter that will happen for the most part) and I think also that inflation is going to let rip in a few years time. It's not going to be pretty in lots of ways.

It's fashionable to blame big business for the mess we're in and whilst they undountedly must take a part of the blame, a larger role (in my view) has been played by government for keeping interest rates far too low a few years back, fuelling the asset price boom (and the levels of individual mortgage borrowing in relation to earnings). Consumers too, with their high levels of plastic debt (the US and the UK in Europe in particular), must be counted largely responsible - people have grown used to foreign holidays every year and not saving for things, but buying them when they want them, largely with borrowed money. Germans, for example, tend to have much lower levels of individual borrowing - many more live in rented accommodation and there is much lower use of credit cards.

At least the High Street will look bright and sparkly over Christmas, though.

Bingo Wings said...

Don't want to be too depressing or anything, what with it being nearly christmas and all, but our entire system of living does in fact depend more or less entirely on being in serious amounts of debt. If the arse fell out of the banks and that overnight, the ensuing chaos would make Shaun of the Dead look like a bloody Vicar's Tea & Cake Tasting Convention. More tea, vicar?

Anonymous said...

The 'good times' as we have come to know will not come back; in fact it is going to get a lot worse in terms of public services.

Whilst you can criticise people for their over reliance on borrowing, a lot of money has been taken out of the economy and concentrated into the hands of the lucky few.

We cannot all be high fliers and money makers and takers; somewhere along the line we need teachers and doctors; nurses and engineers; physiotherapists and policemen; train drivers and radiographers; typists and ambulance drivers - well you get my drift. There is a strong indication that those employed in these types of occupations may well become relatively much poorer. There may well come a point as we lurch from financial crisis to crisis in each successive decade where there will just be the fabulously wealthy and powerful and 'the rest of us'.

There is a massive pension crisis looming and in many ways the local economy is relying on the pension pots of the fairly recently retired to bolster it. What will happen a few years along the line when the relatively financially healthy population begins to dwindle?

Can we improve things? Possbily

Will we fidn the skills to work together to do so? You tell me.

Something there to fuel the debate I think.

Anonymous said...

Double time on a Sunday for putting up the decorations? Nice bonus in time for Christmas if you can get it

Graisg said...

A bit cynical there anon, early on Sunday morning is the best time for this work. Hopefully they did get an overtime rate. What would you suggest? Sod the Christmas lights to save money?

11:05 AM