Sunday, July 24, 2011

The end is nigh...

Blimey - I haven't blogged for almost 2 months! Better get on with it...

My colleague was chatting to a guy at a birthday party recently and it turned out that he worked in high finance. They were discussing the current economic situation and the finance guy was just explaining how, from his point of view, things were pretty bad - but also getting worse. He then said something quite chilling:

"My advise to you is to stock up on food, and get a gun. People will be rioting for food and you will want to defend yourself."


Ummm, okay...

Now, maybe this guy had drunk a bit too much and just wanted to sound cool by scaring people. Maybe he actually worked in a tiny accountancy firm and had no real understanding of global markets and fiscal stimulus packages.

But what if there was an element of truth in what he was predicting? What if he understood things better than most people? Could we really see food riots on the streets of Britain in 12 months time? Ironic that we witnessed rioting in London a few weeks ago. Okay, they weren't motivated by food shortages, but you can't help but blame the economic climate as one of the (many) causes.

Personally, I don't think we'll ever see food riots here in the UK. I think the government - however stupid and inept we think they are - would never allow such a situation to happen. We have the resources and know-how to cope alone. Maybe not forever, but for the short term at least. I think the fact that we're an island also helps.

Of course, recent events in Japan demonstrated the fragility of highly efficient supply chains. Everything fell apart once disaster struck, and in no time people were queuing for food in the very supermarkets that were, only a few days before, brimming with produce.

The only difference is, I'm not thinking about a natural disaster here. If that were to happen in the UK, I don't think we'd cope much better than Japan - in the case of a severe economic crisis, however, I believe things would happen gradually so the powers that be would see it coming and be able to react accordingly.

What has struck me, however, is that you wouldn't know we were facing hard economic times if you wandered around city centres. In Cardiff, people are still out shopping. Cafes are doing a roaring trade in lattes and cappachinos. Egad, the council is still paying for buggies to drive disabled people around the shops! Sure, there's the odd empty shop unit - but there always has been. You may not see Woolworths on the high street any more, but Home Bargains tooks its place easy enough.

Maybe we're all kidding ourselves and living it up while we can. Maybe the economic 'tsunami' is around the corner and we're drowning out the roar with the sound of celebrity TV shows on our flat-screen TVs. Maybe the zombiepocalyspe is just an incompetent lab technician away from becoming reality.

Or maybe people who work in finance should shut up and talk about the weather instead.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Making Money out of Economic Misery

Aloe Blacc has done well out of his latest single. It got to Number 2 in the UK charts and has gone Platinum in, er, Switzerland.

It's a catchy number that taps into the current economic-woes zeitgeist, singing from the perspective of some poor guy that's been laid off and winds up drinking away his problems.

Is it a political statement, standing up for the everyday man suffering because of poor financial decisions made by bankers and governments?

No, not really.

Aloe might like to think it is, but I very much doubt he's investing his royalties in feeding programmes for the unemployed, drug rehabilitation units or job creation schemes. He and his writers have just done what all songsmith and lyricists do - take inspiration from current events and themes in order to create their music.

In some ways, you can't blame them - I just think it's ironic that a song about poverty has probably given Aloe Blacc, his writers and his records company a nice, healthy bank balance.

No, Aloe. You don't "need a Dollar". You're doing just fine.

The rest of us, however ... we're screwed...