"For those of us with children who made the long car journey to the continent over the summer, ‘Are we there yet’, will be a familiar chorus.
One of the truly wonderful benefits of working in Jersey is that France is just an hour away by ferry and many Islanders, myself included, have struck south from St Malo where we can reach warmer climes quite easily.
The Cook family headed for La Baule, and I can heartily recommend it to any UK colleagues who have been a bit short changed in the sunshine stakes this summer.
However, as we return to work, refreshed after the summer break, we are finding that the same chorus has followed us home. Everyone is asking repeatedly of the financial crisis and the global slowdown;
Are we there yet?”
I wrote this in Summer 2009, fast forward to Summer 2013, and it is a sobering fact that four years on, the news headlines are full of the same questions.
Is a recovery underway, can it be sustained, where are things headed next?
Politicians both sides of the Atlantic would have us believe escape velocity has been reached and those bright sunlit uplands of economic recovery are in sight. ‘Greenshoots’ is being whispered in the corridors of power.
Growth indicators are popping up with increasing regularity, but is this the real thing or another false dawn.
Stock markets, housing and employment have all turned positive in the US and UK, and the Eurozone emerged this week from the longest recession in its history.
Speculation abounds as to if and when interest rates will need to rise to choke off resurgent inflation. Central bankers, including the BOE, are keen to stress ‘forward guidance’ and assure tentative consumers and investors that rates will stay low for some time yet.
Confidence, mainly coming from housing market recovery sustained by ultra low interest rates and schemes like ‘Help to Buy” , is making consumers in Britain and the US feel wealthier and they are spending again, important, but not sustainable unless real jobs, productivity and wages all increase on the back of real economic activity.
Debt has not been dealt with yet in the developed economies and may yet prove a brake on progress. The growth markets of Brazil, India, China and Russia have all slowed, and youth unemployment has reached almost 300m globally.
In the round some reasons to be cheerful yes, but plenty that could go wrong too, so continue to expect the unexpected.
And the vacation venue this year? The Cook family went to Brittany, a beautiful and tranquil corner of France, where the musical members of the clan (not yours truly!) were surprised and delighted to find they were sharing a hotel with Gareth Malone of ‘The Choir’ fame, and a thoroughly nice chap he is too.