Friday, January 23, 2009

Turns out those boring people who went on about maintaining our manufacturing base were right after all

or Reports of our death have been greatly understated.

By A Very Fearful Fellow Who Does Not Have a Clue What he is Talking About

The situation: British people buy a lot of their stuff from abroad. Electronics, toys, food; it feels like most of the things we live on come from abroad. However, most British people do not make anything that foreigners might want to buy. We have been paying for our inflated lifestyles by selling foreigners paper. Let's not get into why they bought it but they did.

The crux: The underlying value of that paper, our money, essentially relies on what things foreigners can buy with it from us. Unfortunately, Pounds Sterling is not worth very much because we do not produce things that foreigners might want to buy. We used to make ships and cars and things but we gave that up a while back. Pity really, because they would be really cheap now that our overweight currency has collapsed. I suppose we still have that financial expertise and cutting edge management advice that we used to sell to people. Enough said. What have we got left? A few Harold Pinter plays? So the Pound is basically worth very little and has been worth very little for a long time.

The revised situation: There are huge piles of Pounds in foreign vaults and those Pounds are worth nowt. The economy is going tits up so the Government is printing more of that paper to try to give it a "kick start". Sadly, there is no engine on the bike apart from debt. The printing of more money is just going to make our money worth even less. Drastically less.

The foreigners who own rooms full of paper are realising it is worth nothing and are selling it for what they can get. The price of our money is going down very quickly and is likely to stay down. The financial sector of our economy, which has warped our public policy for decades and has provided the fig leaf for our national lethargy, is going down with us (or, to be more precise, just slightly ahead of us).

The crisis: The printing of money, the piling of debt upon debt and the inevitable (and partly consequent) fall of the Pound will all result in hyper (or at least super) inflation and further currency collapse.

The resolution: Panic! If you have any money, buy land! I mean land you can grow carrots on.

Or, don't panic. We are not in this alone. The rest of the world is damned too if this system collapses. I would not be surprised if the Dollar does the same sort of thing the Pound is now doing. And that would not be a sideshow, that would be the the Big Top falling over. The producers in the East are going to be just as screwed as we are if the global trading system stops working and we enter the Second World Depression (I suppose, like "The Great War", they will have to change the name of the first depression). So, perhaps, somehow, they will cover over the cracks with all that useless paper and allow us to stagger on a little further as the world economy's necessary fat men.

I still say land where you can grow carrots would be a good idea though. You could always build a mobile phone kiosk or a dodgy mortgage brokerage on it if things don't go so badly.

Disclaimer: I know nothing at all about what I am talking about. My opinions may go up as well as down, on a daily basis.

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