It ain’t over till it’s over

The strongest of all warriors are these two — Time and Patience.

There’s been a lot of publicity about a Financial Times poll of economists which suggests that the recession in the UK is over.

Well, here’s a surprise – it’s not.

For start, only 11 out of 20 so-called experts even suggested that the economy had stopped shrinking, so that’s just over half then. Hmm, not what you’d call a unanimous vote.

And another thing. You don’t go into a recession that happened as fast and as painfully as this one did and expect to come out of it after, what, barely a year. It’s only nine months since Lehman Brothers went belly up. That’s 270 days give or take and a whole heap of trouble hit the markets after that.

Yes, there are some glimmers of hope, the Glenigan Index and the CIPS surveys for example are showing that things are getting worse at a slower rate. The RCIS are finding that house prices some areas are stabilizing, though that may be more down to the laws of supply and demand than any real recovery.

And it’s true that many, many people are feeling a bit more positive about things.

But consider this: last year, most businesses were still working to budgets set before we had any idea how hard things were going to get.

With many businesses now in a new financial year, people are now starting to see their performances against far more realistic budgets. And it’s so much better for one’s positive outlook to see that you’re, say, 0.5% ahead of budget than 30% down on last year. Being 0.5% ahead of target gives you the impetus to try for 0.6% next month and 0.7% the month after. Being 30% behind last year just makes you feel bad.

I don’t want to talk anything down and I certainly want to see us come out of this as much as the next person. But we need to be realistic. The thousands of people who have lost their jobs in this industry and others aren’t going to suddenly get them back again just because a few economists are feeling a bit more cheerful.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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