Thursday, February 12, 2009

Global recession or global correction?

The global recession is just a way of purging the excess of greed that builds in every generation yet to witness the consequences of such a course.

Each world recession (think the 1980s) has a common denominator, whether it be from bankers eager to make a buck from clients who are just as eager to make a buck from expanding their business - greed marks us all.

Here's a fascinating exercise. If you ever get the chance, take a look at a property programme like Location, Location (A UK programme currently screening on TV1, focusing around a couple looking to sell up in the city and move elsewhere). Recently, by chance, I viewed a 2001 edition of the show, when a young couple thought spending $120 000 pounds ($328 000 NZ) on a house was a tooth pulling exercise. This season I was completely astounded by the fresh faced Londoners, barely out of nappies, demanding their first house, to be quite blunt, be one hell of a mansion with no work required of it. The price for their young dreams appeared unfixed - most couples ending up spending $500 000 plus Great British pounds ($1.37 million NZ). Couples without children required four to five bedrooms, four bathrooms and a country farm estate they could kick around on in their wellies during bank holidays. This may be far off telly-land but it does serve a purpose in explaining how we got where we are today.

"Those that cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - George Santayana

Every generation must face a boom and bust process. It's how we learn and no amount of postulating or educating will stop it happening again. The young corporates and IT rich referred to in programmes like Location, Location have never experienced the consequences of prolonged credit and therefore borrowed and spent at an outrageous level. But we needn't blame them entirely. We live in a society that is all about borrowing. From when we leave high school and enter tertiary education, debt becomes our friend, our shadow and we live with it as easily as living with the designer bunion on our big toe. To get ahead we are told to borrow, to educate ourselves via student loans and then it is all the hammering of piggy banks from there.

It is no surprise that the student loan generation is by far the most debt ridden of any that have come before it. It is a generation bought up on the mantra of 'now' - a greed exacerbated by Governments who allow youth to think they can have it all by borrowing from at first the taxpayer and then from the banks.

How many times over the past few years have farmers been told at countless seminars that debt was not their enemy, it was indeed their friend, and a great tool to further success? This message has pervaded every layer of society and the condemnation now of excess spending by so many Governments around the world is rich considering they allowed it to happen while it was good for the treasury coffers, and indeed encouraged our youngest contributors in society to borrow and borrow again.

To shout 'whoa' at the World Economic Forum, when the carpet had already been hacked away is hypocritical and to pretend that this is and will be a one off event only relative to this generation is a falsehood designed to deny their own culpability.

Recession? No.

Correction?...we'll wait and see.

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