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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Britain - vision of Japan’s decade of stagnation

I haven’t written anything about the recession for some while. That doesn’t mean to say that it is no longer important or that it is still not the only show in town for marketers – it is.

There is only so much doom and gloom that you can read and write. Of course recessions create lots of business opportunities but, for most marketers, it is and will be grim.

I am sure you will have seen the countless ads that infected the UK TV for “consolidation loans”. The proposition was simple. You might be up to your neck in debt one of these loans can help by consolidating the debt into a single loan, give you a bit of breather from paying the interest, secure the loan on your house and then charge you an even larger interest rate in the future.

The UK is like the consumer who was duped by this sales line. It has consolidated its debts, into a staggeringly large public sector debt, and the nation is waiting for the first repayment bill to drop through the Treasury's letter box.

Until now it is only the unemployed who have suffered from the recession. The task of paying back the debt will affect everybody.

If you think I am overstating things have a read of this leader in today’s New York Times. Not a happy story. Dick Stroud

Britain may finally be emerging from recession, but many analysts warn that it is a false dawn. In fact, they argue, the economy here is so ravaged by growing debts and ruined banks that it could well be following in the steps of Japan’s lost decade of the 1990s.

The parallels are eerie: Like Japan, Britain enjoyed more than a decade of booming growth, fed by aggressive bank lending and real estate investments. Haunted by the comparison, policy makers have been extra aggressive in using fiscal and monetary levers in hope of preventing the stagnation and banking stasis that plagued Japan for so many years.

Some economic indicators over the last week have been positive: an uptake in retail sales, fewer jobs lost and an export revival. Yet analysts say they may well turn out to be teasers that cloak deeper, more structural flaws in the economy.

In addition to rising debt, the tax base is collapsing and the crippled banking industry has yet to show it can generate profit by lending to companies. And so on and so on and so on…..

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