Economic crisis One year on

25 September 2009

There is a certain optimism in the air, albeit mixed with some apprehension, that the worst of the global economic crisis is over. Thankfully, we did not witness a total melt-down of the financial sector, which would have been disastrous, making what we are going through now a storm in a teacup in comparison. I was thinking of stocking up on tinned food this time last year, in case everything went down the drain. In the end, a few tins of sardines were purcahsed, and they remain lurking somewhere dark in the kitchen.

The economic situation, however, to an untrained pair of eyes still looks precarious: it’s not over yet. Unemployment won’t come down for a while, and the path to economic recovery tortuous. We humans are extremely bad at predicting the future, pretty bad at interpreting the past, and not particularly good at understanding the present. Very much a cliché, but to paraphrase Chairman Mao, it’s far too early to say what the lessons of this economic crisis are.

Yet, and yet, we must act in darkness and grope our way out of the mess. Politicians have to give us a narrative that chimes with our personal experiences and anger. Economists will have to explain why things went wrong, and more importantly, how to make sure something similar will be less likely to happen. Perhaps, we need to look at ourselves, as individuals, and see whether we had been too optimistic, foolish or greedy in the giddy days.

Hackneyed and platitudinous as these remarks are, they are a fair summary of what I think one year on from one of the most momentous events of the early 21st century.