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BUSINESS FIRST June\July 2012 www.businessfirstmagazine.co.uk


SCEPTIC THE


It is becoming clearer by the day that something quite sensationally awful is waiting for us down the track. As we get closer, those whom we have appointed to look after our interests are struggling furiously and fruitlessly to find a way to avoid the coming doom. It feels like that movie cliché of old: a driver hurtling downhill in a car, putting his foot on the brake only to discover someone cut the brake cables. Cue precipice/tree/disaster, shrieks of horror, fade to black.


What I find so amazing about our situation, given that we are in the back


seat, also shrieking, is that it was the guys we put behind the wheel who actually sabotaged the brakes. One nurtures the fond hope that when disaster strikes they’ll get theirs first, but that’s impossibly naïve. You can be sure that in the final reel they’ll find a way of jumping to their safety, while we in the back seat go screaming into the void.


So what is the calamity that awaits? The impending implosion of the Euro will be the first sign. Then banks will shut down, whole countries will go broke, millions of people will lose their jobs, extremists will feed on the accumulating misery, there’ll be violence on the streets, fade to black.


Oh how easy it is now to say, why did we trust these lunatics with the car keys? Well, that’s the way it has always been. We voted people into power, they did their best as they saw it, for better or for worse, and we got on with our lives. Sure, there were road bumps, but there was an implicit contract between the governing and the governed that somehow we would all muddle along in the same direction. The trouble with that lay in the fact that it was all a bit of a muddle. Muddling is another way of saying no one is going very far, very fast. Maggie put an end to it and we all set off at a terrific clip.


You don’t need me to tell you


what happened next. No matter how vital it was for us to shed the shackles of muddle, sloth and failure that were choking us, the ensuing galloping greed, rampant credit, out-of-control bankers and devious politicians created baleful consequences, the scars from which we will bear on our collective back for decades to come.


It is no coincidence that the growing cataclysm has been paralleled by a growing gap between what people in positions of power and financial influence say and what they mean. Call it the erosion of trust by the application of corrosive spin. Alongside both the gathering storm and the dust clouds of spin there has also been a yawning gap between those who have, the so-called 1% and those who have not, the 99% (not sure I trust this arithmetic-based shorthand, but it serves a rhetorical purpose.) Given that those who run things tend to be among the 1%, accumulating wealth and influence at the same rate as the 99% are losing it, the only way to maintain a shaky bridge between the two is through trust, that we are all still striving for the same ends. So much for that. What was it Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs said in response to accusations that his bank was deliberately selling products it knew to be dodgy? Essentially it was: screw you, you snooze you lose. Wall


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